Season 2 of the popular Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” debuts today, and its return is likely to again generate wide attention among teens, and revive serious concerns among mental health professionals, educators, and parents.
The series is based on a 2007 young adult novel about a 17-year-old girl who commits suicide and tells the story after her death through audiotapes. The show’s first season drew sharp criticism for appearing to glamorize suicide and for a graphic scene depicting the teen’s suicide. Mental health experts were especially concerned about the impact of the show on impressionable adolescents, who often watch media by themselves on personal devices.
The new season is said to focus more on themes of recovery as the school community copes with the aftermath of a suicide loss, suicide attempt, and sexual assault. While research shows the duration and prominence of suicide publicity, including through social media, can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals, a new season of “13 Reasons Why” and the attention surrounding it does present an opportunity to have meaningful conversations with young people to reinforce the message that suicide is not a viable solution to one’s problems and that help is available.
The San Diego County Office of Education’s Student Support Services department has identified the following resources from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) for discussing the show and its challenging topics.
- AFSP and 13 Reasons Why provides guidance and resources for teachers, parents, and young adults who view the show
- Teens and Suicide: What Parents Should Know is an overview and answers to frequently asked questions from AFSP
- More Than Sad is AFSP's national suicide prevention education program for middle and high school faculty, parents, and students
- After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools, developed in collaboration with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, is a free, in-depth guide with best practices and practical tools in the aftermath of a suicide that impacts a school community.
- Seize the Awkward is AFSP’s national peer-to-peer campaign that helps teens and young adults be more comfortable talking to each other about mental health and when to get help.
Showrunners for this season of “13 Reasons Why” have also added a public service announcement to air before the first episode that recommends that viewers who may be struggling with difficult topics addressed in the show watch it with a trusted adult or to not watch at all.
SDCOE’s Student Support Services department provides districts with numerous supports and trainings related to youth mental health, including resources, Youth Mental Health First Aid, trauma-informed practices, crisis response, and more.