If you have an adolescent in your home or in your life, you may have heard them talk about a series on Netflix entitled, 13 Reasons Why, which just released season two on May 18th, 2018. The show is based on a book of the same name by Jay Asher. Season one is the story of an adolescent named Hannah who dies by suicide. Prior to her death she records on video cassettes 13 reasons why she chose to kill herself; each recording is dedicated to a specific person. As she planned, a friend receives the tapes after her death with instructions to listen to each tape and then pass the tapes to the next person who is named. Season two focuses on how her friends are coping with her death and their response to listening to the tapes.
The objective of the series was to start the discussion of suicide and other issues that adolescents face today. Yes, it does that, but some of the episodes are very disturbing and graphic, for example in season one her suicide and in season two the assault and rape of a male. The series includes negative issues that teens may be exposed to, such as suicide, bullying, rape, violence, and a thwarted school shooting.
Mental health professionals across the country expressed concern that vulnerable or at-risk youth may have increased thoughts of suicide and may attempt to manage difficult situations on their own and not involve a parent. CCHMC Psychiatry encourages parents to be aware of this Netflix series so they can decide if they want their child to watch the series. If parents do allow their child to watch the series, we encourage them to watch the series with their child, so they can help to process what was just seen.
When watching with your child:
- Engage your child in a conversation about the show.
- Listen more than talk: ask them their thoughts and feelings about the topic or focus of the show.
- Share your own thoughts, but be cautious of lecturing or telling them their opinions are “wrong” and yours are “right”.
- If they share thoughts about suicide or high-risk behaviors, for themselves or peers, contact a mental health professional.