A Warning For Parents: Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ Is Not For Kids

Valerie Fesh, who has been suicidal and writes about suicide prevention on her blog, tells us,

I’ve been there and there’s no way that I would’ve had the energy for all the planning she obviously did and making the tapes and lists, etc. Not to mention that every single time that I’ve been suicidal to the point that I’ve attempted or been about to attempt, if I’ve had any feelings about anyone at all, its been that they would be better off without me and that my death would relieve them of the burden of me. Most of the time though people who get that close to attempting or actually attempt are so completely disconnected from reality that they’re not thinking of anything except making the pain stop. I’ve heard many many stories from a wide range of people and this desire to stop the pain and make others’ lives better off is common across the board. The main character in 13 Reasons definitely seems more stable and clear headed than I’ve ever been when I’ve felt suicidal.

Adults are portrayed as clueless in 13 REASONS WHY. As I watched, I waited for the time when a teen would have a meaningful conversation with an adult, and it never arrived.

Also blatantly missing is mental health care. Except for a couple passing mentions and a visit with a school counselor whose role is unclear, we do not see visits to doctors or therapists. There is no group therapy or serious discussion about the real help that is available.

This show will probably appeal to teen girls more than boys. We have 2 young adult daughters. Our 20-year-old binge-watched the shows in 2 days and our 18 year old watched a couple of the episodes with me. Our 15 year old boy, a high school Freshman, is more interested in watching THE IRON FIST. He watched a couple episodes because I was watching, and he agreed that it mirrored real high school situations but was overly dramatic.

I do not recommend this show for pre-teens. I would not allow my 7th grader to watch this. Although I think pre-teens need to discuss these topics, the graphic nature of the show would burn some scenes into their brains in a way they are not ready to handle.

One area where this show gets it right is the complexities of sexual assault within the young adult age group. Lines blur at parties, when alcohol is involved, and when people pretend afterward that everything is okay. Sexual assault is not to be tolerated. Let’s teach our boys and our girls very clear boundaries, how to stand up for themselves, and how to be safe in this regard.

Have you watched 13 REASONS WHY? Do you plan to watch? Share in the comments below.


Q & A with a Therapist about Depression

Help Guide: Parent Guide to Teen Depression

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

RAINN Help for Sexual Assault

“Contagious” Suicides: To Talk or Not to Talk?

13 Reasons Why: Considerations for Educators

Mental Health Groups Don’t Want You To Watch 13 Reasons Why


A longer version of this article originally appeared at SaraBorgstede.com.

Sara Borgstede
Sara Borgstede
Sara Borgstede is a 100 lb weight loss success story, real wife, and super real mom. She is a triathlete, motivational speaker, and writer. A mom to 5 kids through birth and special needs adoption, Sara and her husband Mike were foster parents to 35 children. She blogs at www.saraborgstede.com and runs an online faith and fitness program at www.faithfulfinishlines.com. She lives in Aurora, CO with her husband, children, and three cats who eat potato chips.

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