Have you watched the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why?
The show is trending online, with an audience largely made up of teens, many of whom are watching its 13 episodes without talking to an adult about the sensitive issues it presents.
The series expands on a best-selling young adult novel of the same name that tells the story of a teen girl who died by suicide, leaving behind a box of cassette tapes with a narrative that may reveal the reasons for her death. The compelling mystery/thriller touches on themes—including bullying and rape—in a manner that, some experts warn, could glamorize suicide for a susceptible young audience.
With so many high schoolers—and even middle schoolers—watching the series, it’s important to ask youngsters if they’ve watched the program and what they think of it.
The National Association of School Psychologists provides an online tip sheet related to the show, with information designed to help families and educators launch a dialog with safe messaging suggestions.
“While many youth are resilient and capable of differentiating between a TV drama and real life, engaging in thoughtful conversations with them about the show is vital,” the association says in its online guidance. “Doing so presents an opportunity to help them process the issues addressed, consider the consequences of certain choices, and reinforce the message that suicide is not a solution to problems and that help is available.”
In addition, CBS News offers suggestions for families and educators who want to talk to teens about the program. And CNN provides an overview of the debate about the series, with information from a variety of teen-focused mental health professionals.
As the conversation about the series and the subject of teen suicide continues to grow, you may decide to write a blog post or to publish something on social media or in another type of public forum. Keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers a link to guidelines for writers covering this public health issue. The CDC also provides guidelines for those writing and developing content on bullying.