Maybe you’ve already heard, maybe not, but Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” has captivated a generation. Since it’s release on March 31st, millions of teenagers have watched the entire series. In the series, Hannah Baker, a high school student has taken her own life. Before she does, she lists 13 reasons why she has.
The scenes and episodes gradually become extremely graphic with rape and suicide through the series. Additionally, the show, perhaps unintentionally, romanticizes suicide by showing it as a possible option for vengeance.
Why is this so popular? “13 Reasons Why” is another indication that the next generation is crying out to be heard. With every post they are asking the questions, “Am I being heard?” “Does anyone notice me?” “Does anyone care about me?” What if your teen needs to have a voice more than they need to hear your voice? What if they need to know you’re not only hearing them, but listening to them?
So how should we respond as parents:
I would encourage you to have a conversation about it, whether they’ve watched the series or not.
If your teen has not watched it, they’ve heard about it. Ask them if they want to watch it and why or why not. Ask how their conversations have been with their friends. Ultimately, I encourage you to steer them away from watching the series.
If they want to be able to participate in conversations with their friends about the show, consider reading a few summaries instead to avoid the graphic imagery.
If your teen has watched the series, it is important to talk to them about how it made them feel. Perhaps they feel hopeless or they feel compelled to do something to help. Listen carefully and allow your teen to express their feelings. Then, offer and remind them of hope. In a narrative filled with hopelessness, in a world that embraces that truth is relative and whatever we feel is truth, we must lovingly lead and point back to what is true.
If you have faith, then you know God’s gift is a hope-filled narrative that begins with overcoming the grave and ends with the restoration of all things. We can walk in that hope today; that no matter what we face, Jesus walks with us and gives us the power to overcome and see our hearts restored.
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm or having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.