The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has released guidance regarding the controversial Netflix series '13 Reasons Why.'
The group's recommendations are based on the opinions of mental health experts and research on exposure to suicide content in mass media.
Overall, the group said teenagers should not watch the series without a parent of guardian present. They added that the show's depictions of suicide, sexual assault, and bullying could be triggering to some people. Viewers should also familiarize themselves with the warning signs of suicide and know there is help available.
TSPN Recommendations for Parents and Schools regarding '13 Reasons Why'
It is not advised that children watch this program due to its graphic portrayal of suicide, sexual assault, and bullying. Teens and adults with a history of suicidal ideation, mental illness, or trauma should also avoid it because of potentially triggering content.
For the above reason, TSPN recommends against schools screening the series for students. There are other ways for schools to explore the subject of youth suicide.
School staff should not lead class or school-wide discussions of the series. Staff is encouraged to address questions about the series on a student to student basis utilizing this information as well as the links provided below.
TSPN recommends that teenagers who are interested in watching the series should watch it with a parent or guardian. In this way, the program can be used to begin a healthy dialogue with teens about suicide, mental illness, and other critical issues they face.
Keep in mind that the novel and the series on which it is based have somewhat different plot developments that could affect the way readers and viewers experience the show.
If teens bring up the series in conversations with parents or teachers of their own volition, they should encourage them to talk about what they have seen and their opinions about it. Again, guided one-on-one discussion of the program may be an opportunity for opening up about problems they or others are having.
Provide resources to faculty/staff as well as parents and students including, but not limited to, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and Crisis Text Line (text TN to 741741). For other resources please go to the TSPN website for region-specific resources and directories: http://tspn.org/regional-information.
Warning signs from the Suicide Prevent Network: Previous attempts, verbal threats, behavior or appearance changes, and isolation
Suicide Prevention Resources
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Crisis Text Line: Text TN to 741741 if you're struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Additionally, the peer recovery call center is available in East Tennessee, where those who answer the hotline are have first-hand experience in the area.
"They know exactly what a caller is going through because they've gone through it themselves," said Ben Harrington, CEO of the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee.
The center can be reached at 1-865-584-9125 between 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Lifeline Crisis Chat: Chat online with a specialist who can provide emotional support, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention services