by Melissa Blankenship
Many parents may not have heard about the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, but their children probably have. This is a dramatic series based on the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It is about a young girl, Hannah, who commits suicide and leaves behind 7 double-sided cassette tapes on which she has recorded 13 reasons why she committed suicide. They are delivered to the 13 people who she felt contributed to her desire to kill herself.
The book was published in 2007 and became the New York Times #1 best seller in 2011. It has received numerous awards as a young adult novel. However, its film adaptation is not being received with the same glowing enthusiasm. Whether because of the wild-fire way in which the Netflix series has gained popularity or the graphic portrayal of Hannah’s suicide, the dramatic series has caused much concern among mental health professionals, teachers, and parents. Parents should know some facts when determining the suitability of this series.
Know Your Child
According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), Youth who are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts should NOT watch this series. They recommend that even mentally healthy young people should watch the series with an adult who can discuss the complicated issues it covers and stress the message that “suicide is not a solution to problems.”
Know the Signs of Suicide
Parents should familiarize themselves with the signs of suicide in order to recognize them in their children. These include:
- threatening suicide either directly or indirectly;
- giving away possessions that are special or significant;
- being preoccupied with death;
- changing their behavior, looks, or habits; or
- exhibiting signs of emotional distress.
View the complete list at the NASP website.
Know Where to Get Help
In Cochran parents can contact their school’s counselor if they are concerned about their child. They can also contact Community Mental Health at 478-272-1190. If there is an emergency after hours, parents can seek help at the Bleckley Memorial Hospital emergency room.
Know Your Power
Parents should always be aware of what their children are watching, whether on the television or on-line. Televisions and online streaming sites like Netflix have parental controls that parents can use to monitor and limit the amount and type of television their children are watching. Loving parents have the tools to protect their children and should use them.
In Cochran, parents can seek help in implementing electronic tools for supervising their children at their child’s school.