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Published on April 26, 2017

13 Reasons Why: A TV Series about Suicide and an Important Reason to Talk to Your Child about Suicide Prevention

On March 31, 2017 Netflix launched 13 Reasons Why (13RW), a TV series based on a popular novel of the same name. The series is a fictional story and cautionary tale of a young girl’s suicide that covers many other sensitive topics including teen bullying, rape and assault. This drama series became the most-Tweeted about Netflix show during its first week of streaming (3,585,110 Tweets). Your child most likely has heard some of his or her friends or classmates talk about the show and may be watching the series.

13 reasons

What You Need to Know

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 10-24, which is a key demographic highlighted in the series. The show does bring suicide, and many other issues to the forefront. That said, parents should be aware that the manner in which suicide is portrayed in the series is not accurate. It is important to have the correct information to educate your child and let him or her know they have your support.

Here are three key points for parents:

Encourage Youth to Ask for Help

It is important to let your child know there are positive ways to cope and that it is OK to ask for help. This is an area that is not accurately portrayed in the series: When the lead character attempted to reach out and ask for help from a school counselor, she was dismissed in her attempt. The counselor’s response in the show is not an appropriate response and not typical of most counselors. Youth need to know that school counselors, teachers and professionals are there to help them and are very concerned for their well being. There are many other local resources that offer help listed below.

There is Hope and Help

Suicide is not a common response to life’s challenges or adversity. The vast majority of people who experience bullying, the death of a friend or any other adversity shown in the series 13 Reasons Why do not die by suicide. In fact, most reach out, talk to others and seek help, or find other productive ways of coping. They go on to lead healthy, normal lives. There is hope and there is help.

Bryan Medical Center is active in suicide prevention on a local, state and national level. Learn more about suicide prevention.

Bryan mental health emergency department provides emergency mental health care/crisis assessments to determine if hospitalization is needed. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Bryan West Campus, 2300 S. 16th St.

Other helpful resources:

  • Bryan Counseling Center, 402-481-5991
  • Online, confidential screening for depression, anxiety and alcohol use – Take a screening now
  • National Suicide Helpline, 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Response line in Lincoln operated by CenterPointe, 402-475-6695

Learn more about Bryan Mental Health Services for children, teens and adults.

dave miers

About Dr. Dave Miers

Dave Miers, PhD, is director of behavioral health services at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

He helped establish the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition in 1999 and chaired/co-chaired this Coalition until 2017. He currently serves on the Board of Directors. Dr. Miers is a member of the leadership group for the Lincoln/Lancaster County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Dr. Miers has published research and co-authored a chapter in the Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Suicide Research focusing on family survivors of a child suicide. Dr. Miers helped develop the Lincoln Lancaster Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team in Lincoln, Neb. He also helped develop other LOSS teams in Nebraska and is active with LOSS team development on a national level.


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