On the eve of the launch of the second season of the popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, psychiatrists with BC Children’s Hospital are hoping to send a message to teens and their parents: don’t watch this show unprepared.
Hospitals saw an increase in visits across the province. when the show’s first season launched in March 2017, said Dr. Tyler Black.
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“What we saw following the release of 13 Reasons Why was a number of children presenting to emergency departments around B.C., reflecting that the content of 13 Reasons Why was a specific reason why they were feeling more suicidal,” Black said.
The series tells the fictional story of a teen who takes her own life, but leaves behind cassette tapes explaining the reasons why.
Black said the series sparked a conversation, but it also broke many rules.
“In giving the main character a significant amount of power through their suicide, they were able to accomplish a number of things by dying by suicide and portraying help in a very unhelpful way,” Black said.
Kids Help Phone saw a 30-per-cent increase in calls from teens about suicide in 2017.
The show’s producers have now released a discussion guide for parents and teens, addressing self-harm, bullying and sexual assault, among other key topics.
In addition to a warning video with cast members, the new resources include a Season 2 video discussion series, which will be added to 13ReasonsWhy.info and in the Netflix “trailers & more” section, featuring additional cast members discussing the tough topics covered in the new season like depression, bullying, sexual assault, substance abuse and gun violence.
Akhila Blaise, co-director of Distress Services at the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC, said parents however need to check in with their kids before they tune in for another season.
“To be mindful of the mental health of their kids and to be open to talk about it: talk about mental health concerns, talk about what’s going on for the kids and whether they are in a sound mental state to watch it,” she said.
Dr. Ashley Miller of BC Children’s Hospital said the show does parents a disservice, portraying them as helpless and clueless, when that isn’t the case.
“We want parents to talk with their kids to say nothing is off limits here because these things are happening in kids’ world, they’re gonna talk to their friends about it, they’re gonna research it online,” Miller said.
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