Care House Blog
Posted By: Courtney M
The Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why has caused much controversy since its release. The show centers on a high schooler, Hannah, who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes for 13 people who contributed to her death. The tapes cycle through a lying boy who starts a rumor about Hannah, a backstabbing best friend, a rapist, and an unhelpful school counselor, to name a few. One by one, they have to listen to the reason they contributed to Hannah’s death and then pass it on to the next person on Hannah’s list.
Many people, including suicide prevention groups and survivors, have spoken out against the show. They say it romanticizes suicide and can be a trigger for someone who is going through a similar time in their life. However, the writers and directors of 13 Reasons Why speak out on its behalf to support their decision on how and why the show was created as it was. They say it needed to be shown in a way that is true to the experience that people have with suicide and was meant to get a conversation going about bullying, depression, sexual assault, and suicide. So should teens and young adults be watching this series? As a parent, you need to be aware of both sides of the argument to make the decision on whether you will let your son or daughter watch the show.
Reasons Why It Should Be Watched:
It shows how actions and words can significantly affect a person’s life. Bullying is a real problem in schools today, and this series brings to light the affects that bullying can have on teenagers. If you take anything away from this series it will be that kindness can save a life.
It portrays the pressures that young people experience at school’s that parents and adults often minimize or deny. The series brought to light the issues that teenagers go through in high school and may give parents the opportunity to start a conversation with their children about what is going on in their lives and what they are feeling.
It shows how much suicide can affect the family as a whole. When a person decides to commit suicide they often do it as a way to escape from the pain they are dealing with in their life. What they do not realize is that the pain does not go away after they are gone, but transfers over to the remaining family left without them there.
It offers hope to young people watching the show that they are not alone in their feelings. It shows that they are not the only one dealing with issues of depression or suicidal ideations. It is more common than they might believe and they should not feel ashamed for speaking up to someone about what they are going through.
Reasons Why It Should Not Be Watched:
The show portrays power being gained after suicide. Hannah did not feel as though she had control of what she was going through until after the tapes were sent to each person, forcing them to finally listen to her and do as she wished. This sends the wrong message to young adults that the only way to gain power in their situation is to commit the act.
It blames others for why she committed suicide. Many times the family and friends of someone who commits suicide has survivor’s guilt and blames themselves for the suicide whether they had reasons to or not. While some of those individuals in “13 Reasons Why” should be held responsible for their actions, it misleads people who are watching the show into believing that there is someone to blame for a suicide.
It showed a lack of options and alternatives to suicide. The show put a lot of weight on kindness being able to “fix” someone when in reality that person may need help from a professional in order to combat what they are going through. In the very last episode Hannah reaches out to a school counselor as a last ditch effort for help, but the counselor ended up not being able to help Hannah at all. This can send a message to young people in a similar situation that it is not worth it to reach out to an adult or professional in a time of need.
Experts believe that the show can lead to a contagion effect. Suicide prevention groups advise against showing specifics on how to commit suicide. When this is portrayed in the media, it can encourage copycat behavior. The final episode of “13 Reasons Why” is a graphic portrayal of Hannah’s death that shows specifics on how she committed the act. Many advised against putting this in the series, but the makers decided to keep it in the show to be real and raw.
“13 Reasons Why” is rated TV-MA which is intended for mature audiences only and has a “viewer discretion is advised” message before multiple episodes with more graphic scenes (the episodes that portrayed sexual assault and Hannah’s death). It is important for you, as a parent, to use your discretion on whether you think your child will be able to handle the serious issues presented in this series. If you choose not to allow your child to watch the show, Netflix does have the option for parental controls so that you can restrict a user from accessing this series. If you do let your child watch the series I think it is very important to also have them watch the 30 minute after show that follows the series. During this segment the cast and creators speak more about mental illness and suicide-prevention information and hotlines.
Although “13 Reasons Why” does portray very serious issues in a raw matter, the subjects are very real and the show can be used as a way to start a conversation with your children. Open communication about suicide and depression is vital. Getting your child to talk about the reasons they are struggling in their life at the moment is not where the discussion should end though. There also needs to be talk about the reasons they should live, and the future they can look forward to.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or needs emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273 TALK (8255), or you can visit their website suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
By: Kaitlin A
Kids are finally out of school for the summer, which means more free time. They have time to hang out with their friends and do stuff they could not during the school year! No more homework to keep them busy and occupied while at home. Being on summer vacation might mean less parent supervision. Let’s not forget about some safety precautions to keep in mind. While parents are at work it can be easy for kids to get into some mischief. Technology is something that is continuously growing and the Internet is a great resource. Going over some safety precautions on social media can be very beneficial to the safety of your child.
Find out what social media sites your child is on. If you are on the same site, add them as a friend! By adding them as a friend you will be able to see what they are posting on the site. Also, you will be able to see who they are friends with and interacting with. Being able to see what your child is posting and who they are interacting with is very valuable since you will be able to monitor who they are communicating with. Also, what is so great about these social media sites is you can engage with your child.
Having open communication with your child will protect them from the dangers of these social media sites. Something that parents should do with their children is educate them about these sites. Having knowledge of these sites and understanding that they can be dangerous will make your child more aware of what they are posting. Parents should have the login and password information to these social media sites. With parents having this information they will be able to filter through friends on the site. Once a person has added somebody they are the only ones who can defriend them. Let your child know you are protecting them and not being overprotective.
If they are on a social media site such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram talk to them about setting their profile to private. By setting their profile to private it means that only the friends they have added can view their profile. This is a very important feature of these social media sites since it is blocking the profile, so strangers cannot see what they are posting.
Let your child know to fill out only the basic information needed on their profile. There is no need for them to put their city, phone number or school they go to. This is a great safety precaution for the child as strangers would not be able to locate them or get a hold of them with their personal cell phone. Another safety precaution would be to make sure their location is turned off. When the location is turned off it means when they are posting it will not let others know where they are at.
Talk to your child about only accepting friend requests of people that they know. This is very important because once that person is added they will be able to see everything that was ever posted. Strangers should not be able to see personal information, as they can be a threat. For the child’s safety it is best to only add friends they know.
Social media sites are great for interacting with peers. Children who are out for school in the summer can still have daily contact with their friends. They can see what they are doing from the posts on the sites. Not only that, but if the parent is monitoring the social media site they can see what their child is doing throughout the day. Being able to discuss safety precautions with your child about the social media sites is very beneficial to the safety of the child.