“13 Reasons Why:” Have That Healthy Conversation Now
“13 Reasons Why” is a Netflix series about a high school student who leaves behind tapes that reveal the thirteen reasons—including sexual assault, underage drinking, and bullying—that lead her to take her life. Without a doubt, it is a very frank and disturbing story, and many professionals have condemned it as inappropriate for children and teens to watch. The show suggests to teens that there is often no help available and that suicide is a glamorous, revengeful solution to depression or despair.
While there are some myths, triggers, and misrepresentations in the show, it is important that parents and caregivers acknowledge that this movie is a hot topic among teens: they are already talking about it and many have watched it—perhaps without your knowledge. What we recommend is that you use this opportunity to talk openly with the teens you love about suicide and their mental health. If they want to watch the show, watch it with them.
High school can be a terribly stressful and overwhelming time in one’s life, and a teenager may experience some of the serious challenges faced by the girl in the series. However, suicide is not an acceptable nor common response to this kind of adversity. It is a tragedy—not a romantic, glamorous act. Talking about your stress and problems can be healthy and productive, as is listening to and acknowledging others who share their problems with you.
There is a guide available to help you and your family in this conversation at www.save.org. Emphasize to your teens that help in some form is always available -- from you, from friends, family members, or teachers, or other trusted adults. Stress that it is never wrong to reach out. Listen more than you talk, and be sure they know how much you care.
Help is also close to home: call 970.347.2120 (press 2), 844.493.8255 (TALK), or come to our crisis walk-in center at 928 12th Street in Greeley.
This movie allows a chance for all of us to have this conversation. It is also an opportunity to CHANGE the conversation—in entertainment, in our schools, in our homes. Be aware of how suicide is portrayed in the media and in our society in general.
For prevention trainings, presentations, or support after losing a loved one to suicide, call us at Suicide Education and Support Services (SESS), 970.313.1089. There is help, there is hope. It begins with healthy conversation.
Michelle Dalpra, Educator
SESS is a program of North Range Behavioral Health