On March 31, 2017, Netflix launched 13 Reasons Why (13RW), a TV series based on a popular novel of the same name. The series is a fictional story and cautionary tale of a young girl’s suicide that covers many other sensitive topics, including teen bullying, rape, and assault. This drama series became the most-tweeted about Netflix show during its first week of streaming (3,585,110 tweets). Your child most likely has heard some of his or her friends or classmates talk about the show and may be watching the series.
What You Need to Know
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 10-24, which is a key demographic highlighted in the series. The show does bring suicide, and many other issues to the forefront. That said, parents should be aware that the manner in which suicide is portrayed in the series is not accurate. It is important to have the correct information to educate your child and let him or her know they have your support.
Here are three key points for parents:
- Suicide is preventable.
- Get the facts about what is accurate and not accurate in this series so you can educate your child.
- Experts suggest if you allow your child to view the series, watch it with him or her and use these facts and talking points.
Encourage Youth to Ask for Help
It is important to let your child know there are positive ways to cope and that it is OK to ask for help. This is an area that is not accurately portrayed in the series: When the lead character attempted to reach out and ask for help from a school counselor, she was dismissed in her attempt. The counselor’s response in the show is not an appropriate response and not typical of most counselors. Youth need to know that school counselors, teachers and professionals are there to help them and are very concerned for their well-being. There are many other local resources that offer help listed below.
There Is Hope and Help
Suicide is not a common response to life’s challenges or adversity. The vast majority of people who experience bullying, the death of a friend, or any other adversity shown in the series 13 Reasons Why do not die by suicide. In fact, most reach out, talk to others and seek help, or find other productive ways of coping. They go on to lead healthy, normal lives. There is hope, and there is help.
Bryan Medical Center is active in suicide prevention on a local, state, and national level. Learn more about suicide prevention.
Bryan’s mental health emergency department provides emergency mental health care/crisis assessments to determine if hospitalization is needed. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Bryan West Campus, 2300 S. 16th St.
Other Helpful Resources
- Bryan Counseling Center: 402-481-5991
- Online, confidential screening for depression, anxiety, and alcohol use: Take a screening now
- National Suicide Helpline: 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Response line in Lincoln operated by CenterPointe: 402-475-6695
Learn more about Bryan Mental Health Services for children, teens, and adults.
David Miers, PhD, LIPC
David Miers, PhD, LIPC, is the Counseling and Program Development Manager with Bryan Medical Center Mental Health Services.