’13 Reasons Why’ you should be talking to your teen

On March 31st, Netflix released season 1 of “13 Reasons Why” and has recently announced season 2 is in the works.  The show, based on a book of the same title by Jay Asher, follows a series of teenagers confronted with the fallout of one of their schoolmate’s suicide. The series covers a range of topics including substance use, in-person and cyber bullying, mental health, sexual assault, driving while intoxicated, and ultimately, suicide. Many adults and school administrators may feel overwhelmed or at a loss with how to start a conversation with a young person about the show and its complex content.

Talking about suicide, does not cause suicide.

One of the biggest fears we hear from adults is that talking with youth about suicide and suicide prevention will “give someone the idea” to complete a suicide.  Research has shown time and time again, that talking about suicide does not “introduce” the idea to young people.  In fact, starting a conversation about suicide and other complex social topics raised in ’13 Reasons Why’ can actually bring relief to those who are wrestling with thoughts of suicide and bring the conversation and possible ways to address the underlying issues into the open.

While we believe that talking openly about the complex issue of suicide and suicide prevention, we must caution that the show is not intended for all audiences.  As indicated by its TV-MA rating, the content is intended for mature audiences.  We do encourage parents and caregivers to watch with their teens, and avoid binge watching to allow time for processing the heavy content.  Those who are vulnerable, or may be triggered by the content should practice good self-care and avoid watching altogether.

May is also Mental Health Month– another great reason to start a conversation and break down the stigma and shame that can prevent some individuals from getting help.  To learn more about how to start a conversation with a young person check out the links below.

To learn more about the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, click here.