What Parents Need to Know about 13 Reasons Why

By Melanie Rainer

At the end of March, Netflix released 13 Reasons Why, a series based on a novel of the same name that follows the lead up to and fallout after a teenage girl commits suicide. Since its release, the show has been both applauded and critiqued by mental health professionals, school teachers and administrators, and teenagers. The show addresses issues including suicide, cutting, rape, bullying, homosexuality, and more. 

We want to help parents have constructive, God-centered conversations about the influences of media and the issues highlighted by shows like 13 Reasons Why. We’ve rounded up some of the best articles we’ve read about 13 Reasons Why. Join our conversation on Facebook to let us know if you are watching 13 Reasons Why, if you are letting your teens, and what kinds of conversations you are having at home about the show and its impact. 

From our friends at Raising Boys and Girls:

Every parent should read Sissy Goff’s reflections about 13 Reasons Why. A licensed counselor, accomplished author, and sought-after speaker, Sissy brings years of experience to two blog posts about the popular Netflix series:

There Are More Than 13 Reasons Your Life Matters … And What You Can Do About It 

Sissy writes to teens in this post. She says, “So, here’s the thing. I know everybody is talking about 13 Reasons Why. I get it. It’s compelling. It feels a lot like your life these days. You’re glad somebody’s talking about what’s going on at school. You want the adults in your life to understand how hard it is to be a teenager today. I really do get it. It’s so much harder than when we were growing up. I sit with teenagers every day and hear what’s going on in their lives: the real-life bullying, depression, self-harm…all of the things this show is trying to bring to light. I’m a counselor, and have been for 24 years.

Here’s the other thing that I’ll tell you, from a counseling perspective. It’s not just bringing things to light—it’s bringing darkness into a lot of people’s lives, too.” Read more … 


A Counselor’s Response to 13 Reasons Why

In this post, Sissy outlines her concerns about 13 Reasons Why for parents. She writes, “You’ve probably heard of it recently.  Schools are sending out emails about it.  Churches are talking about it.  And teenagers are DEFINITELY talking about it.  In fact, every teenager I’ve asked about it in the last week has used the same words, “Its’ the show everyone is talking about all of the time.”  And I honestly don’t believe that’s teenage hyperbole.” Read more … 


From Around the Web: 

13 Reasons Why Depicts a Graphic Suicide. Experts Say There’s a Problem With That. from The Washington Post

The Washington Post interviews a number of experts about the suicide shown in 13 Reasons Why and concerns about how mental health counseling is portrayed in the series. 


13 Reasons Why: The Book, The Series, The Issues from Alpha Mom

This is a really thoughtful interview between a mom, her teenage daughter (who had read the book and watched the series), and a mental health counselor. I think the biggest takeaways for parents from this are the impact of the extended rape scene, as well as the violence shown on screen. The teenager interviewed encourages the audience to read the book first, and expresses appreciation for the book but some hesitation around the Netflix series. 


13 Reasons Why Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators from National Association of School Psychologists

The National Association of School Psychologists compiled a very helpful list of considerations and tips for educators and parents talking with their teens about 13 Reasons Why. Please check this out if your kids have watched or want to watch the series on Netflix.  


13 Reasons Why Review from Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is a wonderful resource for reviews of books, movies and shows, and their 13 Reasons Why review recommends a viewing audience of age 15+ as well as includes family discussion points. 


In Response to 13 Reasons Why from To Write Love On Her Arms

To Write Love On Her Arms is a nonprofit that helps people who struggle with depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide. Their founder, Jamie Tworkowski, wrote this reflection on 13 Reasons Why, including resources and a crisis text line for those struggling with suicidal thoughts.