Last spring the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, captured the attention of youth globally and created countless discussions among teens, families and schools about suicide prevention, mental health, bullying and more. At the same time, concerns were raised by mental health advocacy groups and experts, including our team at The Jed Foundation, about whether the series presented risks to some viewers because of how the show addressed some of these important and complicated issues.
Given the response to the first season and the gravity of the topics season two would likely cover, we partnered with dozens of organizations and experts to develop a statement including recommendations around viewing the series. Following the release of the new season on Friday, we strongly encourage parents, educators and professionals to review and follow this guidance:
- For vulnerable and at-risk youth (for example those living with depression or an anxiety disorder) we encourage families to make a thoughtful decision about whether or not to watch 13 Reasons Why because of the triggering impact it might have on them. Some of the story lines could be quite upsetting and result in them needing additional monitoring, support and/or treatment. We recommend using the show’s rating (TV-MA) as a source of guidance about the intensity of the content.
- If your teens do watch the series, make an effort to watch with them. This will allow you the opportunity to monitor the impact the show has on your child. It also affords you the chance to talk after each episode and ensure that they are comfortable enough to continue watching. We encourage viewers to watch the additional video resources provided by Netflix in which actors and experts discuss several of the issues portrayed in the show.
- If you are not able to watch together, talk with your teens about their thoughts, reactions and feelings about the content. Check in with them multiple times as it can take a few days to process the content and they will likely continue to talk about the show with their peers. Let them know that they can come to you with questions or worries about themselves or their friends and that you will be there to listen and help guide them.
- Reassure youth that fiction and reality are not the same thing. Even though some might believe that what they have seen on television is or feels like reality, it is critical that you help them understand what is and is not reality and that the outcomes from the series do not have to be their outcomes.
- Learn what resources are available in your local community where you can find help if needed. These might include: a local public health agency, a mental health professional, the counselors at your child’s school, or a crisis phone service.
While many of the issues highlighted in the series – sexual assault, suicide, gun violence, bullying, drugs and alcohol and more – are important for people to talk about and the show will encourage more conversations among families and in schools, the representation of some of those issues were particularly graphic and troubling, especially in episode 13, and may be triggering for some viewers.
Please visit 13reasonswhytoolkit.org for resources and information on these critical topics young people are facing today.
If you or someone you know needs help immediately, please don’t hesitate to reach out for support:
- Crisis Text Line: text “Hello” to 741741
- National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: call 800-656-4673
- The Lifeline: call 800-273-TALK (8255)
- More on how to Get Help Now
In light of the gun violence depicted in 13 Reasons Why and the devastating school shootings on Friday, we want to remind you how to be safe if you are involved in an active shooting, urge media to follow recommended guidelines for reporting on these incidents, and provide tips for discussing and coping with these terrible events.
What to do if you find yourself in an active shooting:
- RUN and escape, if possible. Call 911 once you’re in a safe place.
- HIDE, if escape is not possible. Once you feel safe, try to reach out for help silently (i.e. text, social media, email, put a sign up in the window).
- FIGHT as an absolute last resort. The first response is never to confront an active shooter.
The media can play an important role in preventing mass shootings. The first-ever Recommendations for Media Reporting on Mass Shootings were developed by a group of experts, including JED, in 2017. Learn more:
Learn more about taking care of yourself and others following a tragic or traumatic event:
Learn how to talk to young people about this difficult topic:
Visit Mental Health Resource Center to learn more about emotional health issues and what to do if you’re worried about yourself or someone else.