Kelly's Blog: 13 Reasons Why and the Effect on Teens and Tweens

I received a text last week from my 28 year old stepdaughter warning me about a new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why.  She’s a school guidance counselor, and they have had some issues with students at the middle and high school levels there watching the show and not being able to process what they were watching, and not having an adult to talk to about what they had had seen. I had heard about the show briefly in passing, but didn’t pay much attention. But my 12 year old daughter had already seen some of it.


For those unfamiliar with it, 13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based on the Jay Asher book with the same title.  It centers on high school student Hannah, and her suicide. She leaves behind 13 tapes, each one detailing a person who contributed to her suicide. It tackles incredibly heavy topics like sexual assault, bullying, slut shaming and teen suicide. Critics say it doesn’t focus enough on the underlying mental health issues, it glorifies suicide (Hannah’s locker becomes a memorial where other students take selfies) and is far more graphic than it should be, particularly Hannah’s death.  Others say it shines a light on issues that far too often overlooked or downplayed, and that every teen and parent should see the show.


In our family, it opened the door to discussion and ultimately, my 7th grader decided after the first episode that it wasn’t for her at this point.  We agreed that if she changed her mind and wanted to see it, that we would watch it together and talk about it.


Hear our interview with psychologist, Dr. Rudy Nydegger about 13 Reasons Why, and the advice he has for parents on how to tackle this with their teens and tweens.

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