Suicide, Television and Social Media: 13 Reasons Why

The popularity of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has highlighted both the importance of talking about preteen and adolescent suicide as well as the media’s role and responsibility with respect to targeted programming and warnings.  13 Reasons Why discusses a number of issues that teens can encounter themselves or through friends, such as bullying, abuse and self injury, causing many parents and clinicians to address topics contained in the series.  The 13 episodes of 1-hour shows concludes with a very graphic suicide that has caused harsh reactions throughout the parenting, academic and treatment communities, as well as with adolescents themselves.


Because of the popularity and concern around some of the topics from the series, a number of resources for parents, educators and clinicians looking for talking points about the movie or recommendations for viewing and discussing it have emerged.  As with many sensitive topics with adolescents, a gentle curiosity around whether they have viewed it, their thoughts around the movie and some of its content can go a long way in encouraging open dialogue rather than shutting down an important conversation.  Here are 13 things to consider about viewing and discussing the series as well as some great resources on bullying and abuse, suicide awareness, how to discuss suicide with adolescents and prevention/reporting and discussion points for educators.  Dr. Michelle Scobey’s excellent letter and message is available as a great resource for parents and providers.