Heads Up

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Important conversation regarding Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why”

There has been a fair amount of criticism in the media of late surrounding the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it depicts the story of a teenage girl who has committed suicide and is telling her story through a set of cassette tapes given out to her friends. In short, it’s been criticized for sensationalizing teen suicide and diminishing the seriousness of the issues involved. The show has been accused of relaying a tone of glorification and a lack of sensitivity, as it depicts graphic scenes of her death, rape and recounts the suicide “note” in details.

Research studies have shown that some types of media coverage of suicide can increase the risk of actual suicide in a population. Although suicide is not “contagious,” people at risk can be influenced by these depictions. We, as a community, are taking this opportunity to make you aware of this concern, and to encourage you to speak with your kids. (Generally, it’s aimed at “tweens” aged 10 and older. If your sons are watching the show, it may be worthwhile to get their take on it. Also, if you feel that your son is at risk, please contact our health centre, your family doctor, a local help line, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, or Sunnybrook or North York General Hospitals’ youth psychiatry departments

Here are some suggestions for questions you can broach with your kids:

  • What do you like about the series?
  • What don’t you like?
  • How are you feeling about the series? How is it impacting you?
  • What could you do differently if you were Hannah?
  • What could you do differently if you were one of Hannah’s friends?
  • There are more healthy ways to cope with the feelings Hannah experiences; let’s talk about some of them. What are some healthy ways you like to use?

Here are some contacts for resources: https://teenlineonline.org/; http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/Referrals_to_CAMH/Pages/Referrals-to-CAMH.aspx. As well, our health centre can be reached at 416-488-1125, ext. 2270 or health.centre@ucc.on.ca. Our school counsellor in the health centre can be reached at 416-488-1125, ext. 2263 or sboeckh@ucc.on.ca.