Has your child watched the trending Netflix show “13 Reasons Why?” If so, it may be an important time to start a discussion about any challenging emotions he or she may be feeling, according to counselors and psychologists who provide supports to school-age children.
Based on a 2007 young adult novel of the same name, the series is raising concerns of student-support and mental-health specialists, says Tori Gillett, Canyons District’s Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Program Coordinator.
Gillett says school counseling centers have seen an uptick in students seeking support after watching the popular show, which premiered on March 31 and, according to Twitter, is the most-tweeted-about show of 2017. The show, a fictional account of a teenage girl’s suicide, has prompted some 11 million tweets, according to Variety.
Gillett says: “They are coming down (to the counseling centers), saying, “I watched this and it bought up some feelings, and you know I have experienced some of the same things.'”
As this online resource provided by the National Association of School Psychologists explains, “The series revolves around 17-year-old Hannah Baker, who takes her own life and leaves behind audio recordings for 13 people who she says in some way were part of why she killed herself.”
The show’s producers, which include pop singer Selena Gomez, have defended the series’ graphic content, saying they hope “13 Reasons Why” can open the door to discussions with teens or adolescents about suicide.
However, many teens are binge-watching the 13-episode series without adult guidance and this could lead some to idealize or glamorize the thought of suicide. Gillett says Canyons counselors and school psychologists are aware of the content of the show and are prepared to provide support to students.
“We do have a lot of help out there,” she said. In addition to school counselors and psychologists, Canyons District sponsors the Canyons Family Center, located inside Copperview Elementary, 8449 S. 150 West. The Canyons Family Center provides a spectrum of individual and family-based counseling, student-support groups, and parent-education classes.
The center’s services, which include preliminary counseling sessions that help experienced school psychologists determine what services may be needed to meet a family’s specific needs, are provided at no cost to families in Canyons District.
Gillett urges students to seek the help of counselor if they need to talk or have questions. Also, students have 24-hour access to licensed counselors at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute via the SafeUT mobile app.
Here are some tips for families provided by the National Association of School Psychologists:
- Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series “13 Reasons Why.” While we don’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
- If they exhibit any of the warning signs above, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
- Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
- Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.
- Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.