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

Animal friendship

Photo: Local charity receives financial support for its animal care initiatives

Game on

Photo: Chinook Community Forest sponsors a team for Burns Lake’s new little league

Over 100 registered for Burns Lake’s new little league

Newly launched baseball league in Burns Lake has attracted interest throughout the community

The show must go on

Performers come through despite Cayla Brooke cancellation

Arts and cultural events in Burns Lake

Mozart masterpiece and Vancouver vocal choir among upcoming events

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

Transportation Minister disappointed by BC Ferries plan to remove fuel rebates

Claire Trevena says she is ‘extremely disappointed’ by a plan by BC Ferries to remove fuel rebates

B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

Lawsuit is the latest move in the two provinces’ ongoing feud over the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Liberal government introduces measures to update Canada’s family laws

Justice officials say there have not been substantial updates to federal family laws in 20 years

B.C. mom threatens legal action against sunscreen company

Caleb Jordan, 6, was covered in blisters 20 minutes after using Banana Boat sunscreen

BC Games Society president to step down

Kelly Mann says it’s time for a change after 26 years with the society

B.C. politicians framed by anonymous sticky-note doodler

Insider has been posting caricatures from the B.C. legislature to social media

27 years since initial police probe, polygamist leader to be sentenced in June

Prosecutor recommend up to 6 months jail, defence asks for conditional or absolute discharge

Governments kick in cash for B.C. farmers, food processors

Ottawa, Victoria contribute $14 million over five years to help develop new products, processes

Most Read