You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard about 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix show that portrays the suicide of a teenage girl. Here’s a guide for what to do if your teenager wants to watch the show.
Read up on the issue of youth suicide. The show has caused a lot of anxiety for parents around this issue so it’s a good idea to educate yourself first. Be assured that talking about suicide with your teenager won’t ‘put ideas in their heads.’ If you show that you are comfortable and knowledgeable talking about suicide and mental health, your kids are more likely to open up to you during a tough time.
Is 13 Reasons Why right for your child? If your child is under 15, it’s our strong recommendation that the graphic suicide and sexual assault content makes it inappropriate for a younger age group. If they are older or you decide they can watch it, at least watch the show before them, and then watch it with them – that way you can be prepared to discuss any issues that arise.
Don’t binge watch it. 13 Reasons Why has some very distressing content, and the distress will be multiplied if you watch episodes back to back. Do something soothing after each episode, like having a cup of tea or milo or watching something funny.
Talk to your teen about the issues raised after each episode. Check in with how they’re feeling. Leave open the option of not watching any more episodes if it’s too distressing.
Make sure they know where to go for help. Ask them who they would feel comfortable talking to if they were going through a tough time.
Feeling suicidal is not uncommon for young people. If you’re concerned about your teenager, ask them directly if they’re feeling suicidal or having thoughts of ending their life, take them seriously and get help.
Need to talk to someone right now?
National 24/7 crisis phone services include Lifeline 13 11 14, Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.
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