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'13 Reasons Why' Has Mental Health Experts, Schools Concerned


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The portrayal of teen suicide in the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” has raised fears it may lead to copycats.  Does it cross the line?  Should teens avoid the show? Mike Collins talks with mental health experts and a school psychologist.

The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” has raised eyebrows for its portrayal of teen suicide. The show centers on a teenage girl who takes her own life, an act that’s shown on screen in graphic detail – going against what are considered to be established guidelines for media depictions of suicide.

That’s not mental health experts’ only concern. They also take the show to task for assigning blame for the main character’s suicide. Before killing herself, Hannah Baker records audiotapes for those she felt wronged her and whom she holds responsible for her death.

And because suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teenagers, experts fear the show could lead to “copycats,” as they fear the show “glamorizes” teen suicide.

The education field has also spoken out about the series. The National Association of School Psychologists, for example, says teenagers with suicidal thoughts should avoid the show.

What is it about the program that has raised controversy? If “13 Reasons Why” crosses the line, what are the boundaries for putting a spotlight on teen suicide? How can parents discuss suicide and mental health with their child? How do educators and school psychologists handle it?


Bethonie Butler, TV reporter, The Washington Post(@bethoniebutler)

Lynn Henninghausen, director, Davidson Lifeline (@DavLifeLine)

Lisa R. Newman, crisis response specialist, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Dr. John Santopietro, chief clinical officer for behavior health, Carolinas HealthCare System (@MDSantopietro)