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Netflix Gives A Chilling Peek Into Suicide With 13 Reasons Why

Mental health officials are calling it irresponsible. Schools are warning teens not to watch it. Even Paris Jackson struck out on Instagram saying it’s a trigger and can put you in a dark place. So what is everyone talking about? They’re talking about Netflix Original Series “13 Reasons Why” a story that revolves around the suicide of a 17-year-old girl. 

Katherine Langford playing (Hannah) is a young woman in high school who takes her own life. After her death, a boy who had a crush on her and classmate (Clay) finds a box on his doorstep with recordings made by Hannah explaining 13 reasons why she chose to end her own life. Did Clay make the list? Who else is on it? The story unfolds and is told in two points of view (Clays) and (Hannah’s) and it’s heartbreaking. 

Writer Brian Yorkey who won a Tony for the musical ‘Next to Normal” dealing with mental illness struck back himself saying, “Many people are accusing the show of glamorizing suicide and I feel strongly–and I think everyone who made the show–feels very strongly that we did the opposite. What we did was portray suicide as very ugly and very damaging.”

The the last 3 episodes of the show are extremely graphic. Would I let my 11-year-old son watch it? Yes, I would and will. Why? Well, for starters, I believe the reason so many people are attacking Netflix is because this is a topic that is not comfortable. But neither is parenting, especially parenting a child with a mental illness such as myself. My son has bipolar disorder.

How can you watch the video above and not be moved as a parent? Watching what your kids are watching, getting to know what is upsetting them, questions they have, answering the hard stuff, and even being uncomfortable yourself is part of the job. 13 Reasons Why gets nasty, in your face and provokes those types of discussions that millions of teenagers face more than we care to admit.

82% of Canadian parents admit they are already watching shows like Supernatural, Pretty Little Liars, and Stranger Things just to feel closer to their kids, and teens around the world 74% say they’d be interested in talking more to their parents about shows they watch. It’s a way to bond and even opens up dialogue which is extremely important in today’s society.

When I was in high school, we used to sit in health class and watch ABC After School Specials that dealt with drugs, drinking, death, suicide, teen pregnancy and other topics rotating around sex and puberty. But I never discussed any of these shows with my parents, and I felt very alone. 

I think it’s awesome that shows like 13 Reasons Why are opening up a dialogue between parents and kids, even just to get them talking about the hard stuff like drinking, drugs, preganacy, bullying, and suicide. As someone who has lost people I’ve loved to suicide and someone who has also been there, having a mental illness myself. Talking is so vastly important. It can be the difference between someone taking their own life because they remained silent, or staying here and realizing there is life after this…

Netflix Goes Beyond 13 Reasons

I think that Netflix had done an amazing job in not only producing a teen drama that is so very real, and yes it may cause some to feel triggered, even alone but Netflix is not responsible for the actions or reactions human beings take when engaging in their programming. We as people make our own choices. I also believe the fact they are bringing up tough topics like suicide, bullying, rape and mental illness is more important, especially in light of not only how many teenagers but even adults suffer in silence, for example: Robin Williams. A man who made the world laugh while crying on the inside. 

Netflix met with mental health specialist and have set up several resources. If you’re thinking of watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen and are looking for additional information, here are some ways to help navigate the conversation: 13 Reasons Why Talking Points (created by SAVE.org and the JED Foundation) and the after-show titled 13 Reasons Why: Beyond The Reasons which is a must watch even if you don’t want to watch the show itself, it’s very engaging. If you are immediately concerned about a teen in your life, you can find a list of local market resources on this 13 Reasons Why Global Resource Website

There is a line that Clay uses in the movie after Hannah kills herself when talking to Hannah’s guidance counselor. “It has to get better. The way we treat each other and look out for each other. It has to get better somehow.”

What do you think about 13 Reasons Why? Have you Seen it? Would you watch shows with your teen to open up a dialogue to talk?

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