The Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why” has recently stirred considerable media and community controversy. The series is rated TV-MA, intended for mature audiences only, however we have been made aware that a number of our students have viewed some or all of the sequence. The series depicts a high school student who suicides, leaving a box of 13 cassette tapes which record the reasons why she has taken this action. Due to the way in which the show has approached the topic of suicide and other themes such as bullying, social media, risk-taking behaviours and disengagement from adults, there is risk of eliciting strong emotional reaction in young viewers. As fiction, there are many voids in the narrative, which attributes blame and fails to address the issue of mental health.
Unlike the adult characters in the show, who are portrayed as incompetent, disinterested or absent, we, as parents and educators, are well positioned to respond appropriately and thoughtfully to these issues. We certainly encourage you to know what your children are watching and engage in reflective conversations, as required. It is an opportunity to remind your child that there is always a network of people both at home and school to guide them through difficult times. At school they can approach the School Psychologist, a trusted teacher, Head of Year, Homeroom teacher, School Nurse and of course, friends.
To support you in such conversations I have attached three evidenced-based sites which provide helpful information and guidelines for responding to a range of sensitive issues.
Pamela Dusting | Secondary Division Psychologist