By Caroline Nersessian, LCSW
You may have heard about the controversial Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why in the past few months. The show’s power to reduce stigma and open up healthy conversation about suicide, juxtaposed against its arguably dangerous insensitivity in handling the topic has prompted mixed reactions from parents, educators and suicide prevention advocates.
The series tells the story of Hannah Baker, a high school student who experiences a number of traumatic events and then dies by suicide. 13 Reasons Why is popular with viewers of all ages, including teens and pre-teens. It has been both lauded by entertainment critics for production and performance quality and criticized by mental health and suicide prevention organizations for mishandling themes such as suicide, sexual assault and trauma. Some mental health professionals have even accused the series of putting young lives at risk by increasing the likelihood of “copycat suicides,” or “suicide contagion.”
At Child and Family Guidance Center, we know that 13 Reasons Why may have brought up some thoughts and feelings about suicide that many parents and caregivers find difficult to discuss with their children.
CFGC offers community education and trainings that empower caring citizens to identify people at risk and prevent mental health crises in their families, schools, workplaces and communities. Please search for CFGC in either your app store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android) to DOWNLOAD CFGC’s App for more information and to register for a suicide prevention training.