Teens and kids have almost constant access to media in various forms today. Often, the adults who care about them are not aware of what they've seen on their phones, tablets or laptops. Are your children or children you know watching "13 Reasons Why"? While this series touches on many issues that young people may face, it is not appropriate for children and younger teens. Older teens should have the opportunity to discuss it with a trusted adult. I've spoken with kids as young as 10 years old who have watched at least some, or all, of the episodes in this series.
This unrated Netflix series, which is based on a popular book, portrays a young person who commits suicide following a series of challenging events in her life. There are many reasons to be concerned about this series - it includes graphic depictions of rape and suicide, alcohol misuse is portrayed as an expected activity, bullying is rampant and unchecked by school staff, underlying mental health issues are not acknowledged and adults miss multiple opportunities to help students. Perhaps the biggest concern is that suicide is glamorized - as if ending ones life is the only way to effectively let others know the impact of their actions. The series diminishes the finality of suicide and offers no options for seeking assistance and/or mental health treatment. Although this is dismissed by some people as 'just a tv show', suicide experts around the world note significant concern that it will lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts and attempts among young people. I urge you to become informed about the series and your child’s possible exposure to it. If your child has watched it or you decide that it is appropriate for them, you may want to consider the talking points provided by Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE):