A new Netflix original show related to suicide is drawing a lot of attention, some viewers seeing it as very positive while others are having a more negative reaction to the show and its content.
The show is an adaptation of the book by the same name, written by Jay Asher. For parents, the first thing to be mindful of is despite the setting and high school age cast, this series carries the rating of TV-MA by Netflix, which is similar to an R rating of a movie (https://help.netflix.com/en/node/2064).
This is due to the subject matter, as well as intense portrayals of mature subjects such as rape and drug and alcohol use. Taking the time to check in on what your children are watching when Netflix can be accessed by any number of devices such as television, computer, tablet or phone is very important.
While this subject matter is challenging, the fact of the matter is that teen suicide is something that should be talked about more.
According to the Academy of American Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suicide is the third leading cause of death in people age 15-24.
If you know that your child has been watching 13 Reasons Why and has questions about suicide, the JED Foundation has developed an amazing list of 13 topics to discuss with your son or daughter to shape the conversation: https://www.jedfoundation.org/13-reasons-why-talking-points/
In one pivotal scene in the series the character that commits suicide approached the school counselor and is met with judging questions and no support. It is important for children to know that school counselors as well as therapists in community agencies strive to never have this type of reaction.
Many counselors at The Refuge Center and similar agencies have specialized training and experience handling thoughts of self-harm and suicide and understand the vulnerable position one is in when opening up about such topics.
If you or a family member is struggling with this topic please call our office at 615-591-5262 or seek out many resources available online, including the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).