There’s lots of talk going around about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. It portrays the fictional story about a 17-yr. old girl who takes her own life and leaves behind 13 recordings explaining not only the reasons why she did it, but also the persons she blames for causing her suicide. The series is quite popular and references to the show are buzzing all over social media.
While this series is focused on an older and more mature audience, younger students have been watching as well and might be quite impressionable and not be in a position to accurately deal with the graphic scenes that accompany the series (drugs, rape, bullying and suicide). They are also at risk of seeing the series as glorifying a dangerously final decision.
If your son or daughter has been watching the series or talking about it, you might want to enter into that conversation as well. The makers of the show say they are using it to raise important issues, but many mental health professionals are concerned about how those issues are being addressed.
If your child or their friends watching it have a history of suicidal thoughts, depression or mental health concerns, those who deal professionally with suicide prevention recommend that you watch it with them and discuss it afterward.
How do you open the conversation? First it’s good to simply ask what they think about what they saw. Even if they use the common “I don’t know,” answer, gently probe a bit further. You might ask if they’ve felt feelings of stress, pressure, depression, or even had suicidal thoughts. Therapists say that bringing up the subject of suicide directly doesn’t make the person more likely to follow through with it and can give you some quick indicators of how serious their thoughts might be.
If your child admits they have had thoughts of suicide, you can ask further questions to see how far those thoughts have gone. If responses seem more serious than you thought they might be, or if you notice significant changes in behavior, we recommend calling a trained professional for further guidance, even an appointment. Our number here at Jefferson Center is 720-826-4283–and we’re available 24/7. These are awareness indicators to take seriously. Don’t just hope they’ll go away or automatically think “my child would never do that.”
While some of the behavior, the causes, and the “solutions” represented on the show have not always been clinically sound, having a discussion about better options can help change the perspective dramatically. If you’d like to see a more healthy way to approach messages that should be communicated, please click here https://www.save.org/13-reasons-why.
Above all, don’t just dismiss the talk as harmless teen talk. Correcting wrong impressions and communicating encouragement and life-fulfilling options is vital to our young people. Be courageous enough to break the silence. You could be the very lifeline they need.