21Apr

Why “13 Reasons Why” Should Be Your Next Binge

13 reasons why

I just finished 13 Reasons Why and I feel compelled to write my feelings about the show. Watching it was a very intense experience, one that I was slightly reluctant to have after reading some of the negative press about how it glorifies teenage suicide. However, my daughter raced through the series in a matter of days  and came out of the experience with only high praise for its storylines and characters. Regardless, every mom under the sun has told me that it’s absolutely necessary to watch it. After all, it tackles some very serious issues other than suicide from slut shaming to drinking & driving to sexual assault to cyberbullying to gun violence.

The book, a New York Times bestseller written by Jay Asher, follows the life of a shy teenage boy named Clay Jensen who comes home from school one day to find a box with his name on it sitting on his porch. The 13 episodes flush out the tale of Hannah Baker as she posthumously narrates the months leading up to her death by suicide. The tapes are for the 13 people in her life that detail how their nefarious actions ultimately led to her decision and her narration vividly depicts the method she used to end her life.

As much as this is a story for teenagers, it really resonated with me. It brought back memories of what it was like being a teenager, as I experienced bouts of depression and performed a suicide attempt at age 16 for attention more than anything, but as a parent, it made me think about my kids and the reality of what they are facing today in the age of social media. In this age of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and so many many other forms of social media there are endless ways a teen or adult can be bullied. Whether you think your child is being bullied, possibly a bully or just standing on the sidelines afraid to speak up it is important that everyone see this series.

Interestingly enough, Netflix just released a study* that reveals that 83% of parents have watched a show their teen watches just to feel closer to them and the real shocker: Teens welcome it. While 62% of parents think it’s tough to talk to teens, nearly all US parents (96%) feel that watching TV shows their kids are obsessing over will give them more to talk about and 81% of teens agree. Not only that, but watching shows teens are watching every now and then can inspire more than just small talk.   

Netflix US Cheat Sheet copy

The show has gotten a lot of flack for a few extremely disturbing scenes, but I’m going to venture to say that it’s important for our youth to witness the harsh reality of growing up in 2017. The truth is that high school is tough. 13 Reasons Why tackles the concerns of mental health and teenage suicide, and what circumstances can trigger such a tragedy head on. The show depicts the alarming and traumatic impact on the people left behind, particularly Hannah’s parents, and could serve as a lesson to anyone suffering from mental illness. Many suicide prevention groups find the show controversial and say that the story makes it seem like suicide is Hannah’s only option. But I think that you must watch it for yourself to decide. What’s important is that this show has sparked a national discussion about mental health and suicide. Whether positive or negative, people are talking about these delicate, sensitive issues.

As a mom, I also want to touch on Hannah’s parents, so skillfully played by Kate Walsh and Brian d’Arcy James. They portrayed the grief and desperation of losing a child so realistically. When she was alive, they were good parents – wonderful, actually. Her act to me is selfish, as she has left them in such despair. The door was open to Hannah to talk to them about how she was feeling, but she misread their signals and decided that she was a disappointment to them. It made me think about my own parenting style and how important it is to keep the doors wide open. It’s always good to have a reminder.

The Netflix study also says that when it comes to tough conversations (think sex, bullying and stress), parents (92%) and teens(63%) agree that watching the same shows could help start a dialogue. Plus, most teens (67%) even admit that having their parents watch their favorite shows could help them better understand what’s going on in their lives.

There are other reasons to binge. The show is incredibly well-written, and the story, which goes back in time and back to the present, works and is structured thoughtfully. Each episode is an important part of the story, all leading to a final episode that puts many questions to rest. The music is a mix of old and new songs, and the soundtrack really works, as the story is so very intense, so much so that I may be tempted to download the soundtrack.

However, if you have a highly sensitive child and feel that they might be traumatized by the show’s graphic scenes and ultimate death which are pretty devastating, take note and make your own decision. The show is very graphic, leaving nothing to your imagination.

But do watch it for yourself. Make 13 Reasons Why your next binge. Either with or without your kids. If you aren’t sure about the content, as it is graphic, watch it alone and then with (or without them. But like I said, my 14 year-old watched it on her own I think she will ultimately learn from the lessons it teaches. I also plan to read the book, and I will ask her to do so, too.

If you’re thinking of watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen and are looking for additional information, here are some resources to help navigate the conversation: 13 Reasons Why Talking Points (created by SAVE.org and the JED Foundation) and the after-show titled 13 Reasons Why:Beyond The Reasons. If you are immediately concerned about a teen in your life, you can find a list of local market resources on this 13 Reasons Why Global Resource Website.

What about you – have you watched 13 Reasons Why and what are your thoughts on the show?

Disclosure: I am a member of Netflix’s StreamTeam, but all opinions are my own.

*Methodology:

*Zeno Research & Insights surveyed n=1,275 Parents of Teens and n=1,275 Teens aged 13-18, across 7 countries (U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Italy), including 375 U.S. parents of teens and 375 U.S. teens (MoE = +/- 5 percentage points for each audience) and 150 parents of teens and 150 teens in each other international country/market (MoE = +/- 8 percentage points foreach audience).  This survey was conducted online March 16 – 24, 2017.  Data is weighted toensure equal representation of age and gender, in each country.   The overall Margin of Error for the overall international data-set is +/- 3 percentage points for each audience.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. This is a comment I had made to a post. Our daughters are both 12. In my household I have a 16 year old and in the friend’s house the 12 yr old is the oldest. Some of the things I talk to my son about are about his peers both boys and girls and some of their situations. My daughter is around sometimes. this post is from an article I was tagged in on why kids shouldn’t watch it. My daughter and her friend started watching it together at my house so the mom was telling me she preferred she didn’t. Which is completely fine. But this was my response because a few others were on both sides as well. Some of the background. My son was in Catholic School k-8 and in public high school 2 years. My daughter was in public schools in low income areas k-5 (being in a dual language program) and is now 6 in Catholic school. So a lot of what we talk about is differences and what’s the same. Public school might have a gang problem but Catholic school will have prescription drug problem. Both are just as sexually active. I don’t think you have to watch this to talk about this stuff but it definitely is a helpful segue to do so. But it might be the wake up call needed for parents to stop having blinders and be naive to what THEIR children are seeing/experiencing in high school.
    ——–
    I watched it. Isabella and Pierre watched it. I watched a lot of the episodes with them. We talked about the different situations. Those situations aren’t that far fetched. Last year I was talking to my son about parties and drinking drugs etc.. Him being a freshman and an athlete. Not sure how the topic veered but we started talking about St. Eds vs Larkin. Long story short he was like you mean how the kids at St. Eds take Xanax and have sex. Inside My head I was like ‘W-T-effing-F’ —I calmly said yeah like that.

    He honestly told me if it wasn’t for his involvement in sports and goals regarding sports he would probably smoke weed. He said it’s just out there like that. In my head …W-T-eefing-F.. I just said OHHHHH -KAYYYY. thanks for your honesty.

    I mean my son is pretty no holds barred with me and I am thankful. That show is literally every scenario I’ve given in ‘What would you do’ conversations. What would he do if a girl passed out and a friend of his started to take advantage her. If friends were drinking. It’s a reality of whats right, what you think you would do, and what would you actually do. As an adult or just as a viewer it’s easy to say. But to be in a scary situation where peer pressure may be involved. Or getting hurt. In reality some things escalate so quick.

    We also talked about the rape. I told him it was hard to watch but did he see how she gave up and you could see she was dead inside. I told him that’s what rape does. It takes a part of a girls soul. 2 minutes will damage her forever.

    We talked about the suicide scene. I referenced this post and said in the book she took pills and was it necessary to change it. We came to agreement that to show her taking pills and peacefully falling asleep or making it seem easy and painless wouldnt send the message it was meant to send. So as brutal as it was, yeah freak these kids out. Before we used to watch child birth and girls would be like OMG I’m never getting pregnant. That was the point. Times are different. Teenage pregnancy pft, now it’s heroin ODs, kids commuting suicide on FB live. It’s crazy.

    Isabella has a 16 year brother so the topics in our house are a lot different. I can’t shove her in a room or wait to talk to Pierre. I have to address it in real time. Plus I watched that Pretty Little Liars show. That show is way more inappropriate. The whole show is about older men manipulating high school girls. When I actually watched it I had to talk to her about that show too. Like you know that and that is actually illegal. Or that and that is just inappropriate. And she didn’t even know about that show until St. Laurence. We were still on Disney. She watched Dennis the Menace, The Andy Griffin show, Full House, Cosby’s, Cake Boss, Cupcakes Wars. That was her Netflix binge watching. Now it’s Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries and that’s STLs influence. LBVS

    Either way I always drill in my kids there is nothing you can’t tell me. Nowhere I wouldn’t go for you. I will always come for you. I will always fight for you. Don’t worry about the consequence no matter what we’ll get through anything together. Yeah of course there will be consequences but what. A phone taken away, grounding, you’ll survive. JUST TELL ME!!! Most trouble I got in was always worse because I thought my mom would literally kill me so I didn’t call her when I should have. It really takes being an adult to realize…she wouldn’t have killed me. Lol

    • It sounds like you have an open line of communication, which is wonderful. I understand parent’s fears about this program, and they are merited, but I appreciate that important conversations are starting to happen like the ones that you had.

  2. Starley says:

    I have mixed feelings about the show. It brought back a lot of painful memories for me and I couldn’t continue with the show for multiple different reasons. I have read the book, and I feel like it does touch a lot of different issues that both teens and adults feel in their daily lives. It showcases the mind set that someone who is considering suicide or someone who is deeply depressed feels. It feels like you are stuck in a black hole and have no way to get out of it., and the entire time you’re stuck, the emotional pain is so great that it can manifest as physical pain. It also showcases how your behavior, and your words can affect everyone around you. Bullying can start from someone playing a nasty prank on someone else for the bully’s amusement. While everyone else is laughing, the person who was on the receiving end of the prank is humiliated, and scared to fight back, because in their mind, it’s them against the world. They feel like they are on their own, and no one else will care if they were gone. While ultimately you are responsible for your own health, that doesn’t excuse everyone else to treat that person like shit, then wonder why the other person gets sick of it and do the one thing they feel like is the only way to stop the pain. They don’t want to die, they just want their suffering to end. None of this is meant to encourage someone to take their life, or to make excuses, it’s meant to show you what it is like in the life of someone who struggles with suicidal thoughts, actions, and mental illness.

  3. I am a volunteer with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. To date I’ve been with the foundation for four years now and collectively raised $4,000, some with other individuals and some by myself. I am the Chairwoman for the Manchester High School AFSP Campus Walk that raises money for suicide prevention, and volunteer with Washtenaw Alive, Washtenaw County’s suicide prevention league. I also am a four-year survivor of suicide loss.

    I attended a national web conference with AFSP representatives about 13 Reasons Why. The effect this show currently has on the population, especially our students (of which suicide is the second leading cause of death), is disheartening. 13 Reasons Why does not accurately portray suicide, or mental illness. It sends the wrong message to teens that counselors, mental health professionals and adults are unhelpful, uncaring and aloof, that you can obtain revenge against the people that hurt you by killing yourself, and that once you’re depressed, there’s no hope to be had. It portrays a triggering rape AND suicide scene that is likely to PROMPT AND ENCOURAGE people to take their own lives rather than seek help.

    AFSP (along with other organizations) reached out to the producers of the show, INCLUDING Selena Gomez, with advice and guidance while filming, but the producers stubbornly ignored and rejected the research and help AFSP offered. In my opinion the producers of this show were more concerned with creating a sensational show rather than spreading awareness. The American Association of Suicidology as well as To Write Love On Her Arms. have also issued warnings about the show.

    I know many people relate to this show. But the reason people can connect with 13 Reasons Why is because it is virtually the ONLY resource that focuses on suicide in entertainment. The positive about this show is that it’s bringing mental illness into the light and making it okay to talk about.

    Here are the real facts on suicide.

    1) Suicidal people don’t need REASONS to kill themselves, or circumstances. Suicidal people kill themselves because they are sick. There are multiple factors that influence a person’s suicide.

    2) NO ONE is responsible for someone else’s suicide.

    3) Suicide is not heroic.

    4) Treatment works. Studies show that the majority of people who attempt suicide have a diagnosable mental illness. Those who seek treatment go on to live happy and normal lives after the attempt.

    5) Talking opening and honestly about emotional distress and suicide is ok. It will not make someone more suicidal or put the idea of suicide in their mind. If you are concerned about someone, ask them about it.

    6) Knowing how to acknowledge and respond to someone who shares their thoughts of emotional distress or suicide with you is important. Don’t judge them or their thoughts. Listen. Be caring and kind. Offer to stay with them. Offer to go with them to get help or to contact a crisis line, text or chat service.

    7) If someone tells you they are suicidal, take them seriously and get help.

    If you are someone with a mental illness or a history of, I strongly suggest avoiding this show. For more information, please visit the following. If you are in crisis please call 800-273-TALK

    Edited to add that since this show debuted, my area has seen a HIGH surge of teens who attempted suicide or struggled with suicidal tendencies after viewing. This doesn’t mean they weren’t there before, but that 13 Reasons Why negatively influenced teens to act on these tendencies.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/13-reasons-why-suicide-how-to-talk-with-your-teen-about-netflix-show/

    • Thanks for the update. I have also received warnings from local schools about this show. They are getting sent around. I’m glad to see a conversation starting around the topic but I certainly do hope there are no copycat crimes.

  4. I watched the series in two days,I realy thought it was good.The Schools should listen to the kids and they realy dont.

  5. Im 18 and i watched the whole show in the span of 3 days and before that i had read the book for my lit class. My whole take on it is that the graphic disturbing scenes really show the severity of what was happening to Hannah. In the book it is very easy to turn a blind eye to what’s being depicted and for things like, “she should’ve done something, stood up for herself”, to be said. And while thats true the show does a really good job showing that simply doing something and standing up for herself would’ve been a lot harder than it seemed. Hannah had to deal with a lot of heavy stuff and while her taking her life was not the right or only option the show really shows why and how someone can get to that point. My final say is whether you like the show or not like it said in the article it takes on so much more than teen suicide

  6. Such a great show! I don’t understand all the criticism it’s getting. It’s honest, authentic, and encourages conversations. As a new parent, it’s scary how you can be a good parent, yet your kids may not reach out to you for help.

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