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Season 1 Parent Synopsis for 13 Reasons Why
13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series that depicts suicide in a graphic manner and is incredibly popular with teens. Currently, the show has 2 seasons available to watch on Netflix
In season 1, the show focuses on a high school student named Clay and his friend Hannah
Hannah takes her own life and leaves behind a set of cassette tapes that describe the 13 reasons why she ended her life
Hannah dedicates each one of the 13 tapes to a different classmate who has hurt her in some way
Difficult subject matter is a common focus on the show like bullying, drunk driving, rape, self-harm, and suicide
The show can be very graphic. There are several episodes in season 1 that showcase difficult subject matter in great detail
For season 1, Netflix released a 30 minute special called “Beyond the Reasons,” that has mental health professionals, cast members, writers, and producers discussing the difficult themes presented in the show
What do parents need to know about season 1?
13 Reasons Why is incredibly popular with teens. According to a marketing analytics firm, the first season of the show was the second-most viewed Netflix season in the first 30 days after it premiered
Parents will see an uptick in popularity since season 2 of the show was released on May 18, 2018
Many educators and psychologists have raised concerns that the show may serve as a trigger for self-injury among vulnerable students
In New Zealand, students under the age of 18 are strongly discouraged from watching the series without a parent or guardian present
Netflix added strong advisory warnings before episodes 1, 12, and 13 of the first season due to the portrayal of suicide and self-harm
After every episode there are mental health resources and a message that depression and suicide can be effectively treated by a qualified mental health professional
Episode 13 of season 1 is very graphic and shows Hannah’s suicide in great detail
A recent study found that the release of 13 Reasons Why corresponded with between 900,000 – 1,500,000 more suicide related internet searches in the U.S., including a 26% increase in searches for “how to commit suicide”
Some mental health professionals criticize the show for showcasing misleading information which could deter vulnerable students from seeking help. For example, Hannah’s counselor says they can’t report her sexual assault to the police without her identifying the assailant
Over the course of the first season, the following difficult topics are presented: bullying, drunk driving, rape, self-harm and suicide Some say the show sends a dangerous message that suicide can be used to “get back” at others
Some of the mental health organizations and educators who have released statements regarding the risks the show poses are: the National Association of School Psychologists, the Superintendent of Palm Beach County, Florida schools, the U.S. Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and the Canadian Mental Health Association
What can parents do?
We recommend that students younger than 18 years old do not watch this series
Be aware of the show, it’s graphic nature, and the topics portrayed
Ensure that your children know that the show is not reality and can romanticize self-harm
Parents can create a PIN which allows them to view the Netflix series before giving their students access to it
Parents can watch the show to better understand the perspective of a vulnerable student
Teach your children that they can always come to you or a trusted adult if they have an incident, want to talk, or have questions
If you decide that your teen is ready to watch 13 Reasons Why, watch it with them and use it as an opportunity to start an open dialog about the sensitive topics presented in the show
Teach your student to never confront someone in a dangerous situation — especially if they have a weapon. Instead they should alert authorities, teachers, parents, or trusted adults right away
Tell your students to follow their gut, if something doesn’t feel right they need to seek help from an adult
Consider joining Parent University to get access to our bullying prevention curriculum for parents, students, and schools
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