Many of you may have heard about or encountered the widely-watched and controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why – a fictional story about teen suicide. It details the reasons contributing to a young woman’s choice to commit suicide, adding fantasy about her ability to communicate with others after her death and depicting the suicide in gory detail. While the series does an effective job of portraying many difficulties some teens face, it represents suicide as a viable answer, understates the availability of alternatives, and fails to show good coping strategies. For this reason, we recommend that you do not allow your children or teens to watch it without guidance from you or from a knowledgeable adult. Many vulnerable teens have reported increased urges to harm themselves or more difficulty dealing with their depression after watching the show, so we encourage you to talk openly with your kids about whether they have seen it or are hearing about it from friends.
We have included some useful links below that can serve as a guide for concerned parents and friends. The last link is a hopeful project started by a high school in Michigan that helps students to see other possibilities and helps students learn how to support one another. If you have questions about the series or how to handle the topic of suicide with someone you love, please ask your therapist or contact us for assistance.
- Dr. Peterson