It’s the biggest buzz on the internet in streaming shows right now. 13 Reasons Why is a fictional show based on some pretty real things happening in the lives of today’s teenagers. The thing to focus on, and to talk to your teens about though, is the fact it is fictional. You may identify with the characters in the show, but please know that there are other ways to cope with the various topics of the show besides it’s (*major trigger warning*) topic of suicide.
Now here’s where I get real with you. I never really talk about this but after having 3 very close friends to me over the past few months have to deal first hand with teen/tween depression and suicide attempts, I realize I can no longer stay silent.
When I was between the ages of 16 and 19 I made attempts to end my life due to bullying, psychological abuse of a boyfriend and other reasons I am still, 20 years later, uncovering. Thankfully they were only attempts and I wasn’t able to follow through.
High school is hard. SO hard. And I’m not talking about grades. Kids don’t have the ability to filter themselves. They don’t understand the true severity of their words. They think it’s funny to watch someone suffer. They don’t understand that constant bullying can drive someone to take their own life and that’s final. End of story. Game over.
I have three sons. At the time of writing this post they are 9, 12 and 18. We’ve had rollercoasters of emotions that I thought only tween girls had. I had no idea the politics of fitting in affect boys as much as it does girls. I’ve seen things and grounded them for things that I still can’t fathom. I’ve been told stories of classmates that make me want to reach out and hug parents I don’t even know personally. Told of inappropriate social media connections between teachers and students that make me cringe for all parties involved. I’ve witnessed friends lose their innocent children to the depths of depression and even worse, losing them altogether.
It’s an epidemic.
My biggest fear is that one day my kids will stop talking to me about what is going on. I want to hear the good and the bad. I want to be here for them to help them navigate their crazy confusing world. I am constantly reminded of those who looked out for me and my own parents who saved me from my demons and never gave up on me.
Suicide in tweens and teens is a real issue. It’s not something to take lightly and shows like 13 Reasons Why are startling, alarming, and difficult to watch, but I truly feel it is better to watch these shows together. You know they are going to watch anyway. It’s the hot new show. Why not watch together and open a dialogue. I have to admit, the show is a huge trigger for me, but it’s important that I explain to my kids that these are very real issues and they need to be prepared for how to deal with them in real life, as well as to be able to deal with how the show may affect them.
The birds, bees and breaking the ice. When it comes to tough conversations (think sex, bullying and stress), parents (92%) and teens (63%) agree that watching the same shows could help start a dialogue. Plus, most teens (67%) even admit that having their parents watch their favorite shows could help them better understand what’s going on in their lives.
If you’re thinking of watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen and are looking for additional information, here are some resources to help navigate the conversation: 13 Reasons Why TalkingPoints (created by SAVE.org and the JED Foundation) and the after-show titled 13 Reasons Why: Beyond The Reasons. 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.
disclosure: I partnered with Netflix as part of their #StreamTeam where I am given access to shows and information, sometimes before the public. This post is my own PSA and not part of the typical sponsored content I produce for them. If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.