13 Discussion Topics on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why & Suicide
By: Sharon Raggio
President & CEO
Mind Springs Health
Young adults and parents have been buzzing with mixed reviews about the new Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, in which a young girl completes suicide. The stated intention of the show is to start a dialogue about suicide, but its intensity and messaging are extremely concerning. This comes at a time when our western slope and mountain communities are home to far too many completed suicides.
Research shows media portrayal of suicide as heroic or romantic leads to an increased risk of “copycat” behaviors in young adults exposed to said media. Conversely, media coverage that represents living through life’s difficulties and overcoming thoughts of suicide can lower a viewer’s risk for suicide.
The message that help is available and that many people who experience thoughts of suicide live through it is one of the most powerful mechanisms to combat suicide. The media holds a powerful position in our rapidly-advancing digital world and we need more messages and conversation about the hope and help that is available to people at their worst times.
Though life can be difficult and we sometimes feel like giving up, we know from people who have attempted suicide and lived to tell their story that putting in hard work and not giving up is well worth it.
It is said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and as adolescents are increasingly exposed to media interpretations of suicide like 13 Reasons Why it’s time to have a real conversation about suicide within our families and communities.
It’s time to sit down with your teens who may have watched this show. It’s time to discuss life’s hardships and ensure that your friends, family and community members know that while life impacts us all, suicide is not the answer.
When you discuss 13 Reasons Why and the topic of suicide, know this:
- Help is available
- Treatment does work
- There are people who love you, even if sometime it doesn’t feel that way
- Life is full of ups and downs – the ups will appear
- People walk through life’s difficulties and get to the other side alive. It happens many times, every day
- Suicide is not heroic or romantic
- TV Shows and media that depict suicide as an easy way out are wrong
- TV Shows are not real life
- Suicide impacts the survivors: friends, family, community. The impacts of suicide remain with survivors for the rest of their lives
- If you are thinking about suicide, tell a family member or friend
- If you are concerned someone you know is considering hurting themselves, ask them and connect them with resources for help. Tell them you care
- Say hello and smile! Share good cheer with others you encounter every day
- It takes the whole community to make a difference. Connect to your family and friends and reach out to those who are not connected
Help is Available.
Mind Springs Health Crisis Line: 888.207.4004
Colorado Crisis Line: 844.493.TALK (8255)
Colorado Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 38255
National Suicide Hotline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
National Suicide Text Line: Text START to 741741
Other tips for discussion and resources specific to the show 13 Reasons Why can be found at