|Recently, Netflix released Thirteen Reasons Why (13RY), a series based on the book by Jay Asher originally published in 2011. The series tells the story of a high school student who experiences a series of terrible events-many of which are perpetrated by her classmates and friends. Hannah has died by suicide but before she died she made a series of tapes explaining what each person in her circle has done to hurt her. Each episode tells one part of the story focused on a painful event and interaction.
The show has been highly watched and has received lots of media attention. Because the show takes up issues related to suicide and sexual assault, there have been strong (and strongly mixed) reactions from many viewers along with several professional and advocacy groups. On the one hand, the series has potentially focused attention on and created an avenue for discussions around the meaning of friendship, how friends might support each other, the risks of mistreatment and assault and the issue of youth suicide. On the other hand, the depiction and circumstances of the suicide have raised concerns because there are several elements in the story that are inconsistent with safe messaging guidelines around handling portrayals of suicide in media and works of fiction.
What to do?
In light of the concerns about this show, soon after its release, JED partnered with Suicide Awareness Voices of America (SAVE) to develop Talking Points to help clinicians and mental health professionals discuss the show with parents, young people and the media. These talking points are attached below. The JED website includes additional information and some suggestions for viewers to consider.
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