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 Talking to Kids About '13 Reasons Why'

The recent release of the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" has raised concern among educators and parents.

The series is based on a 2007 young adult novel about a 17-year-old girl named Hannah Baker who commits suicide and tells the story after her death through audiotapes. Hannah uses the recordings to tell 13 people the part they played in her decision to take her life.

The show has gained wide attention among teens, who often watch media by themselves on personal devices. According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), "The series graphically depicts a suicide death and addresses in wrenching detail a number of difficult topics, such a bullying, rape, drunk driving …. The series also highlights the consequences of teenagers witnessing assaults and bullying (i.e., bystanders) and not taking action to address the situation (e.g., not speaking out against the incident, not telling an adult about the incident)."

NASP strongly recommends that vulnerable youth, especially those who have experienced suicidal ideation, not watch the series. However, the series and the attention surrounding it presents an opportunity to engage youth and adults in meaningful conversations about the multiple and often complex issues associated with suicide. NASP has prepared guidance for educators and parents as well as appropriate messaging for students, all of which can be found here.

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and the JED Foundation have drafted talking points that can be shared with students, parents, and school employees. Teen Line also has developed talking points for educators and parents.