Have You Seen The Show 13 Reasons Why?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. 17 million children in our country have a mental health disorder. Wow! According to Dr. Koplewicz, President of the Child Mind Institute, seventy five percent of all psychiatric illness occurs before the age of twenty five. Fifty percent occurs before the age of fourteen! This is why it is vital that we have powerful conversations about mental health with our kids. It’s easier to treat an illness that an individual has had for a few years rather than ten years.
13 Reason’s Why is a show currently on Netflix that has caused quite a stir with regard to the mental health of teens. It’s a drama about a young girl in high school who commits suicide and leaves behind a series of tapes explaining why she took her life. The tapes call out all the people who mistreated her and blame them for her decision to end her life. Many scenes are quite graphic including a couple where girls are sexually assaulted. The show deals with some very sensitive issues such as underage drinking and body shaming.
Should teens see this show? Some people including Dr. Koplewics think they shouldn’t. They believe the show glorifies suicide. Professionals say that many parts of the show are unrealistic. Hannah appears to reach out for help and gets nothing in return. Phyllis Alongi, clinical director for the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, claims the show is unrealistic and that many teens do get help. She says suicide prevention works.
The other side of the argument is that many teens have already watched the show and are left with the emotional side effects. Some parents feel it is best to watch the show with their teens so that they can have powerful discussion about mental health. The JED Foundation who’s mission is to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults has posted Talking Points for Viewing and Discussing the Netflix Series.
One thing that can be agreed upon is that the popularity of the show is a good thing. It is bringing about awareness not just about suicide in teens but also mental health in general as well as what can lead to mental health issues and suicidal thoughts. 13 Reason’s Why has the ability to fuel powerful conversations between parents and teens and promote discussions about how to handle similar situations. Thus, strengthening the relationship between parent and child.