Experts weigh in on ’13 Reasons Why’ and teen suicide

“13 Reasons Why,” the popular Netflix series among teens, is getting unpopular reviews from mental health professionals. The series revolves around teen suicide, but some psychologists say it mishandles the topic in key ways.

The story revolves around a high school girl named Hannah Baker, who takes her own life and releases tapes describing each of the thirteen reasons why she died.

“She seemed to kind of go through friend groups a lot,” Alexa Moody, a suicide prevention advocate, said. “And that was something I really related with. She didn’t really fit in.”

Moody says she sees some of her young self in the series’ main character, Hannah.

“My depression had gotten to a place where I was passively suicidal,” Moody said of her freshman year in high school.

Unlike Hannah, Moody got help and survived, but worries about others like herself that may relate to Hannah.

“I’m afraid it’s going to be so relatable that someone who is struggling is going to start considering suicide because of the graphic images in the show,” she said. “It absolutely glorifies suicide. It glamorizes it.”

Dr. Nicolee Hiltz in Camp Hill says the show is not for everyone.

“I think it’s important to try and avoid it for people who are at risk,” Dr. Hiltz said.

The National Association of School Psychologists sent out a similar message to schools and parents.

But Dr. Hiltz says if your kids have already pressed play, it’s okay.

“You’re not going to put an idea in somebody’s head if it’s not already there,” she said.

She encourages parents to join in watching.

“Have a conversation, talk about it, bring it up, watch it yourself and see what triggers you,” Dr. Hiltz said.

The big one: talk about it.

That was the intent of the series, according to “13 Reasons Why” producers. It’s been the one benefit everyone agrees on.

“It does not hesitate to talk about really heavy topics, such as suicide, abuse, sexual assault, drug and alcohol,” Moody said. “Very heavy topics that we’re now finally talking about.”

For a list of resources if you or a loved one is suffering, go to Moody’s website.

SEE ALSO: The ABC27 Investigators discuss “13 Reasons Why” and suicide prevention in detail on the latest On Deadline podcast.

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