What They Didn’t Talk About in 13 Reasons Why

Since its debut on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why has received a significant amount of attention from everyone from teens to school administrators and mental health professionals. While it has certainly brought the topic of teen suicide to the forefront of news and social media, it fails at bringing awareness about the reality of depression, the finality of suicide and options for help.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death in kids 15 to 19 years of age, only following accidental death. Therefore, when the topic is suicide, even if it is in a dramatization such as the series 13 Reasons Why, the serious nature requires it is done responsibly.

How suicide is covered can have serious implications, so it should be done carefully. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline reports that more than 50 research studies worldwide have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The magnitude of the increase is related to the amount, duration and prominence of coverage.

ReportingOnSuicide.org has developed a good set of the warning signs and what you should do if someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide. They have also developed recommendations for reporting on suicide appropriately.

I hope those who have viewed the series will be able to be more comfortable having an open dialogue about suicide, but that they use all the resources available to them. This ensures that they have the information they need, for themselves as well as family members who may have seen the series.

It was just announced that the series will return for a second season. I hope they use this an opportunity to address some of these important things they failed to in the first 13 episodes.

Photo credit: Helga Weber

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