How to talk to your kids about Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why

BC Children’s Hospital psychiatrists offer tips ahead of TV show’s season 2 release

Two B.C. psychiatrists are offering guidelines for parents about how to talk to their kids about the controversial Netflix TV show 13 Reasons Why.

The show, which premiered on Netflix Canada in early 2017, depicts the troubling life of high school student Hannah. Narrated by the girl herself, the show touches on the themes of gossip, bullying and sexual assault that she says led to her suicide – shown through flashbacks and a set of tapes she creates and sends to her peers before ending her life. Its second season is set to debut on May 18.

READ MORE: Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why prompts letter to parents

Parents, teachers and health officials have expressed concern in the way the show depicts and glamorizes teen suicide, as well as aggravating a teen’s existing mental health problems.

On Thursday, BC Children’s Hospital psychiatrists Drs. Tyler Black and Ashley Miller said care centres across B.C. saw an uptick in young people seeking help after the first season was released. Google searches around suicide-related topics also went up.

“We had a clinical sense there was an impact,” Black said. “When we look at some of the research coming out, both preventative suicide searches [online] and looking for suicide prevention increased, but also research on how to die or ways of dying were things that were increased searches because of 13 Reasons Why.”

Black pointed to the well-researched Werther effect, also known as the copycat effect, in which media coverage and depiction of suicide can trigger those who are more susceptible to such acts themselves.

Both doctors said parents have been left having to navigate through conversations they may have never had with their child around sexual assault, self harm or suicide.

“Parents were definitely asking us, ‘What do I do about this show with my kid?’” Miller said. “Even as recent as this past winter, kids were still watching the first season and were having more suicidal thoughts and parents are really feeling at a loss with how to handle it.”

Miller said the best things parents can do is ensure their children know they can speak to them and not hesitate to reach out to supports in their community, including their family doctor.

“We think it’s much better to watch the show with your teens, to open the discussion with them,” Miller said.

There’s also a disconnect from adult characters, both parents and teachers, and teens in the show. In some cases, the teens turned to alcohol and violence when faced with problems.

“The truth is, some teens will perceive their parents that way,” Miller said. “What we want parents to show their teens is that they can handle it, that they are aware – and if they aren’t aware of mental health, there are a lot of resources to learn about it…

“We want parents to talk with their kids to say nothing is off limits here, because these things are happening in a kid’s world, they’re going to talk to their friends about it and research online, and its much better if they can talk to their parents about it and get the sense that their parents can take it and want to be in it with them discussing these things.”

Parents and teens can visit the Foundry Foundation for more information.

If you or anyone you know needs support for depression or suicide-related mental health problems, call the Canadian Assistance in Suicide Prevention 24/7 hotline at 1-888-353-2273.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford shooting victim named by IHIT

Investigators are seeking dash cam footage, information from locals regarding Friday’s death

Overnight paving work near Abbotsford could snarl highway traffic

Fraser Valley motorists told to expect detours as the paving work continues until July 14 at 5 a.m.

Nomination period closing soon for Abbotsford’s Arty Awards

Deadline of Aug. 1 set for 16th annual event which highlights local artists

Virtual Career Panel discusses job challenges faced by newcomers

Archway Community Services in Abbotsford participates in event on July 16

Abbotsford Hospice Society holds community scavenger hunt

Road to Gratitude event takes place on Sunday, July 19 by the carload

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Most Read