It has come to our attention this week that the new Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why” has been much talked about, particularly among school-aged youth and is raising concerns from suicide prevention experts. The young-adult bestseller book came out in 2007 and the series was released on Netflix on March 31, 2017. It seems that many students are binge watching this series, without the knowledge of their parents as they share Netflix accounts and stream the series on their devices.
The fictional story is a cautionary tale of a young girl’s suicide, and covers other sensitive subject matters as the series progresses such as sexual abuse, rape, substance abuse, mental health, and bullying. The suicide is graphically depicted. The adults in the series appear disconnected or unwilling to help the adolescents in the series. Unfortunately, this could lead teens to believe that there would not be anyone that they could talk to in their school or home regarding depression and suicide.
Due to the popularity and the subject matter of the series, the information below is being provided to assist parents in conversations with their children about these very serious and sensitive topics. It is suggested that:
- Parents/caregivers view the series first, before you allow your children to watch it.
- If you consider the series suitable for your children, watch the series with them.
- Watch the series companion piece “13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons” on Netflix for a discussion by cast, producers, and mental health professionals about the series.
- Create a safe, judgment-free zone when talking about the series and the subject matter.
- Reach out for help if you feel you and/or your child needs it. Call 1-231-722-HELP (4357), 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text “START” to 741741.
In response to the series, many national and local organizations have created resources to assist parents, teachers, and others in talking to youth about suicide as it relates to the situational drama that unfolds in the TV series and in general.
The following resources are suggested:
- Jed Foundation – 13 Reasons Why: Tips for Viewing and Discussing New Netflix Series
- National Association of School Psychologists – 13 Reasons Why Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators [and Parents]