By Ada Eubanks
Depression is being glorified. When you are able to turn on the radio and hear lyrics like “I’m a loser I’m a user,” it becomes impossible to protect children from exposure to suicidal tendencies. Turn on Netflix and ‘13 Reasons Why’ is recommended. Due to the influence of pop culture on upcoming generations one would think we would try to raise our inheritance as untroubled and inspired, but instead their head is being filled with self-degrading ideas such as ‘pretty people are broken.’ Since 2013, the rate of diagnosed depression has increased 33%. Think of the number of people who listen to the radio every day and the number of songs that have to do with being down. Media producers should not be promoting content that glorifies mental illness and music services should be required to warn listeners of songs with dark material in the same way as explicit music.
The commonly recognized “13 Reasons Why” is a TV show about a girl who commits suicide and is blaming everyone for her death. As one who does not find this content appropriate or respectful to those who have committed suicide, I have chosen not to watch. John Ackerman, Ph.D working at the Center for suicide prevention and research, explains how Hannah plays a “vindictive” role in her “teen [revenge] fantasy” (Akerman) therefore allowing the show to promote a view of suicidal behaviour as selfish. This show is glorifying a brat with a plot for revenge, completely
ignoring that about every 12 seconds, a real life person commits suicide. Producers should not be encouraged to create content that makes mental illness look ‘hip’. It is an actual problem and as much as Netflix claims the show is ‘demoding’ this lifestyle, they’re making teenage girls look cool if they slit their wrists.
The Billboard top 100 features artists Billie Eilish and XXXtentacion. Teenagers hear that name and think dark and depressed thoughts. Their top songs are ‘Sad!’ and ‘I want to end me.’ How do you think a teenager’s brain processes the constant hearing of repeated words, “like I wanna drown, like I wanna end me”? These popular artists are influencing their listeners into the same gruelling mindset they have, spreading their pessimism like a virus. No one has ever had easier access to these songs than teens today; why else do you think suicide is the 2nd highest cause of death in teens (according to SAVE, a suicide prevention center)? Music has such an impact on the human brain, from the rhythm to the choice of a minor key. Songs with lyrics spreading
the idea “I still wanna kill myself,” (OMFG, Lil Peep) need to be labelled ‘explicit.’ This may not be cursing, but artists are bluntly throwing around the idea of suicide like it’s a joke. Our world has made us numb to these messages, but for the next generations we have the ability of reducing the ‘sexy’ idea that you’re sought-after if you want to kill yourself.
In a world where people are encouraged to speak up for our rights, sexuality and emotions through music and TV, artists and directors are trying to find a new way to make their audience’s heart ache, but is this being taken too far? These shows and songs are glorifying what it is like to be lower than the bottom of the earth. Teens and tweens look up to celebrities and when their idols are constantly singing and displaying the ‘cool side’ of depression, they are manipulating the minds and emotions of young boys and girls who are just trying to fit in and enveloping them in darkness. Whether you are a kid, a teen or a parent, be aware of what you or your children may be taking in, and then wonder why society has reached a place where depression and anxiety are so…. ‘popular.’
- Morin, Amy, and Lcsw. “How Many People Are Actually Affected by Depression Every Year?” Verywell Mind, http://www.verywellmind.com/depression-statistics-everyone-should-know-4159056.
- “Suicide Statistics and Facts – SAVE.” SAVE, save.org/about-suicide/suicide-facts/.
- Todd, Carolyn L. “Here’s What 7 Mental Health Experts Really Think About ’13 Reasons Why’.” SELF, http://www.self.com/story/13-reasons-why-season-two-mental-health-experts-commentary.