’13 Reasons Why’ Season 2 Lacks Safe Messaging

13 Reasons Why Season 2 Lacks Safe Messaging

The first season of the fictional show, 13 Reasons Why depicts a seventeen-year-old girl, Hannah Baker, who lives with undiagnosed depression and dies by suicide. This show is dangerous for youth to watch because it lacks safe messaging and resources to deal with the challenging topics covered in the show such as gun and domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide, and depression. We have seen an increase in emergency room visits since the airing of the first season of 13 Reasons Why here in Minnesota. In season one, Hannah blames 13 people for the events that led up to her death. The show doesn’t reflect the reality of what may happen for an individual experiencing suicidal thoughts, and it glorifies the experience of someone dying by suicide.

Season two will be released on Netflix Friday, May 18, 2018. Netflix has now provided a short warning video at the introduction of each episode that addresses some of the topics covered in the series and encourages teen viewers to watch the show with a trusted adult. It also connects viewers to the link 13reasonswhy.info, which provides additional resources. Netflix also has added a content warning on the TV series to educate parents on more graphic topics that will be displayed in the show.

Based on the season two trailer NAMI Minnesota and other mental health advocates continue to have concerns and are worried about how different topics such as potential gun violence, bullying, and domestic violence will be handled. It is highly recommended that young children not watch this show. If a parent decides to allow their child or teen to watch this show we advise the adult to watch it beforehand to understand the content. Parents are encouraged to watch the show with their child or teen to help debunk the misconceptions and address any concerns or questions that may arise while viewing the show.

Certain types of messages about suicide can increase the likelihood that at-risk individuals will consider or attempt suicide themselves. This includes: details about suicide method or location, portraying suicide as a common or acceptable response to adversity, glamorizing or romanticizing suicide, and presenting simplistic explanations for suicide.

Recommendations for public messaging are based on research showing that certain types of media reports about suicide deaths may spur imitation of suicidal behavior among vulnerable individuals (people in despair or already thinking about suicide).

Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Increase of drug and alcohol use
  • Isolating themselves from family and friends
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Experiencing aggression or fatigue

If you or a loved one is at risk of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or reach out to Mental Health Provider. Another resource to be shared with youth is the Crisis text line: Text MN to 741 741.

Additionally there is a book, 13 Reasons Why: An Episode-by-Episode Mental Health Resource Guide for Parents By: Dequincy A. Lezine, Ph.D., created to help parents understand what is happening in the TV series and provides resources for each of the topics addressed.