Currently, there is a series on Netflix entitled 13 Reasons Why. This show chronicles the suicide of a young woman who leaves behind a series of 13 messages for specific people in her life that she blames for her death. It is based on a work of fiction by the same name.
Unfortunately, suicide is all too real. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death for people ages 10-24. Given that fact, it is important that you know how to address this series with your child. The National Association of School Psychologists has recommended the following: “We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series. Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.”
If your student has watched the series, or has mentioned it at all, it is recommended that you discuss it with your child. If you have not seen the series, you may want to watch it yourself, or possibly view it with your student; however, it may not be appropriate for some students at all as it is graphic and depicts scenes of suicide, rape, sexual assault, alcohol use and violence . Also, please be advised that students without access to Netflix can also view parts of the series on You Tube.
If you feel like you need additional guidance on suicidal ideation, depression or how to address the series, we encourage you to talk with your child’s school counselor. We have also included talking points and general guidance for families. Thank you for partnering with us to keep your child safe.
Guidance for Families
- Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While we don’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
- If they exhibit any of the warning signs above, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
- Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
- Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.
- Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.
See Preventing Youth Suicide Brief Facts (also available in Spanish) and Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips or Parents and Educators for additional information.