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.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Delta police called to alleged gunman incident at Delta Rise

Police searched the building for the suspect, but couldn’t find him

Surrey RCMP searching for missing teen

Kishan Gopal, 15, was last seen at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 17, in the 1900-block of King George Boulevard

Surrey RCMP say teenager stabbed after ‘dispute’

Police say suspect and other youth fled the scene before officers arrived, near 147th Street and 83rd Avenue

Surrey business groups dig in heels on LRT

Mayor-elect Doug McCallum and his coalition aim to cancel LRT in favour of extending SkyTrain

Homicide team called in after man assaulted in Surrey dies in hospital

Police say they were called about assault early Sunday morning but both caller and victim took off

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Around the BCHL: Chilliwack Chiefs snag spot in CJHL national rankings

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the BCHL and the junior A world.

Rural regions get priority for B.C. referendum mail-out

Ballot security measures aim to protect against voter fraud

B.C.’s natural gas supply could see 50% dip through winter due to pipeline blast

It’s been two weeks since the Enbridge pipeline ruptured near Prince George on Oct. 9, sparking a large fireball

Mega Millions, Powerball prizes come down to math, long odds

Biggest myth: The advertised $1.6 billion Mega Millions prize and $620 million Powerball prize aren’t quite real

2 Canadians advance to finals at world wrestling championships

Olympic champion Erica Wiebe just missed joining them with a loss 3-1 to three-time world champion Adeline Gray of the United States in the 76-kg event

VIDEO: Fire destroys historic small-town B.C. restaurant

Two people were injured as fire ripped through the Hedley restaurant around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday

B.C. town’s mayoral race a tie, come down to luck of the draw

Harry Gough led incumbent Cindy Fortin by one vote on election night Saturday

Outdoor retailer MEC vows to boost diversity after online complaint

Mountain Equipment Co-op was criticized for perpetuating a white-only picture of the outdoors

Most Read