Tips for Parents: Talking about ’13 Reasons Why’ 

June 2, 2017

If you work with children and teens, you’ve probably heard about 13 Reasons Why, the Netflix Original series about a young girl who commits suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes explaining why she did it.  The show’s main characters are young people, but it addresses–sometimes in graphic detail–some very heavy topics, ranging from mental illness to cyber bullying to date rape. Experts have expressed diverse opinions on the show and how appropriate it is for young people to be watching. Some say it’s a healthy way to start a dialogue about taboo issues like suicide; others claim it glamorizes forms of trauma and can be a trigger for victim, even inspiring unhealthy choices and behaviors in the future.


Either way, parents need to 1.) understand that even if their child isn’t watching the show, they are hearing about it from others; and 2.) now is the time to start talking to their kids about the show and its subject matter. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite articles that provide smart suggestions and real-life questions for parents to use when they discuss the show with their children:

If you’re looking for other helpful resources, we have a number of tools on our Parent Resource Center worth sharing:

One of the biggest criticisms of the show has been its lack of information if a viewer needs immediate help. The Mighty‘s article above provides an important list to share with youth:

  • Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741 to text with a free trained crisis counselor, 24/7.
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you prefer to talk to someone over the phone, you can call 1-800-273-8255.
  • Teen LineIf your child would rather talk to a peer, they can text “TEEN” to 839863 between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. PST.