You may or may not have heard about a new series that just debuted March 31 on Netflix called “13 Reasons Why.” This series is about a teenage girl who commits suicide and documents the 13 reasons, or people, who she feels are the reasons for killing herself. This post is definitely not a “review” of this series, but is meant to get information to you about something that is being talked about by some of our community’s youth.
SRO Rick Dutcher and I hear about this show from students routinely. Some reports are “good,” others are “bad,” and what we hear depends on whom we hear it from. Several clips of this show are routinely popping up on students’ social media while several adults have said that this show is “disturbing” or “shocking.”
We tell you this so that you will be informed in case you hear anyone talking about it as it’s readily now available on Netflix. The show is reportedly graphic and shows scenes of the girl’s death that are, according to one article, “sickening and overly salacious, and carries with it all the worst risks of bad representation.” The show also includes some graphic language and uncomfortable scenes, to include forcible rape and sexual assault of an unconscious person. This may be traumatizing for some, especially for anyone who has struggled with any of these things.
It is important to remember that there are healthy ways to cope with the topics covered in the series and acting on suicidal thoughts is not one of them. While this series is based on a novel that was originally meant to portray the girl’s suicide as a tragedy, several experts and adults that the SRO’s have spoken with have said that it could also be viewed as glorifying suicide. Unfortunately, “contagion is real.”
Experts in the field know that research shows that young people are more likely to attempt or die by suicide themselves after experiencing a suicide death of someone close to them. Reportedly, the producers of the show claim to have consulted suicide experts and media portrayal experts. The truth is that they did not consult said experts until after the show was already completed.
Sadly, there are little to no help-seeking behaviors shown in this series. The main character appears to be helpless and hopeless. The series offers no alternatives to suicide as a means to deal with serious problems. Experts feel that the series may be romanticizing suicide and not encouraging at-risk youth to seek help from family members or counselors. Some experts have suggested that youth who have any degree of suicidal ideation should not watch the series at all due to the powerful story that is shown.
Again, please do not interpret this post a “review” of this show or network in any fashion. It is simply meant to get information to you, our readers. If you haven’t heard about the book and TV series, you may want to do some reading or watch an episode of the show to become aware of some of the issues. If your child is watching it, please take the time to have conversations about the content or possibly watch the show together so that you can be there to facilitate those conversations and answer any questions they may have. You can also check out the links below for further information on the series, as well as resources.
Lastly, please remember that help is always available. Help is available through local law enforcement, school counselors, local hospital, community health organizations, and local organizations such as Solutions For Life or Grace To Live, etc. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “START” to 741-741.