Local teens in crisis find 13 reasons to seek help
The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” centers around Hannah Baker, a high school student who has committed suicide and left audio tapes for classmates explaining what roles their actions played in her decision.
Throughout the show, there are also multiple instances of sexual assault, rape, underage drinking, teen alcoholism, cyber-bullying, body shaming and plenty of profanity.
It’s all very graphic and not recommended for children. But many experts say it’s a great thing to watch with your teenager to start an important dialog about suicide and mental health.
Sue Beall, the Southwest Regional Director of Behavioral Health at Providence in Olympia, says in the month since “13 Reasons Why” premiered, they’ve had a lot more kids coming into their crisis center for treatment.
“We were very much aware that there was an increase in April because we saw 81 kids under 18. Normally, we have a couple a week,” Beall said.
She couldn’t say whether the increase is directly tied to the series. But, the timing matches and several of the kids have mentioned seeing the show. Because of that, Sue says they’re tweaking their intake procedures.
“We are now asking if anything in social media or things they’ve watched on TV have influenced or brought more awareness to their symptoms,” Beall said.
“13 Reasons Why” and adults
Overall, it’s a good thing that more kids are seeking treatment.
But Shell St. Onge, a grief counselor and coordinator of the Sound Care Kids Program, says she takes issue with the way adults are portrayed in the show.
Hannah’s parents are never able to figure out why their daughter is unhappy. Even though the high school counselor recognizes that Hannah is in crisis, he doesn’t realize she is about to end her life.
“I know from my own personal experience working with kids and my friends and colleagues, the main focus is to be on the lookout for these warning signs that, in the show, were completely missed,” St. Onge said. “My concern is that sends a dangerous message to kids that there aren’t any safe adults out there when that absolutely is not true.”
The show found exclusively through Netflix is not recommended for young children. Maybe not even for middle schoolers.