’13 Reasons Why’ Raises Teen Suicide Concerns in Schools

The show’s sensitive themes have sparked a controversy.

The popular show “13 Reasons Why” has some school district officials warning of self-harming and suicidal behaviors by teens.

The show, which focuses on a female teen’s suicide and includes scenes of young people harming themselves, has led school officials and mental health organizations to issue cautionary statements about its consequences for students.

Some mental health advocates have argued certain scenes in 13 Reasons Why glorify self-harming behavior and negatively portray school counselors.

“That depiction is fictional and goes against what any counselor is trained to do,” Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts School social worker Jennifer Palermo told mcall.com. “I worry it could send a message that reaching out to a school support person is not a viable option.”

‘13 Reasons Why’ Prompts Teen Suicide Concerns

Florida’s Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert M. Avossa says district officials know of at least a dozen recent incidents of teen’s harming themselves or threatening to harm themselves and mentioning 13 Reasons Why while discussing their behavior, reports the Washington Post.

Avossa sent a letter to parents last month warning them about what he called “a dangerous trend” related to the show.

Chartiers Valley School District in western Pennsylvania also sent a message to parents informing them of the show’s sensitive content.

Other school district officials in Pennsylvania, including members of Pittsburgh Public Schools, have discussed the show with school counselors.

Netflix, which hosts the series, said in a statement that producers worked with mental health experts while making the show and hope it opens dialogue about teen suicide and the show’s other intense themes.

“Entertainment has always been the ultimate connector and we hope that 13 Reasons Why can serve as a catalyst for conversation.”

Mental Health Groups Respond to ’13 Reasons Why’

Canada’s School Mental Health Assist, an organization that works with school boards, sent a letter urging teachers not to treat the show as educational material.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) issued a statement saying in part: “We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series.”

NASP’s statement on 13 Reasons Why includes guidance for school officials on preventing teen suicide and other self-harming behavior. That guidance is listed below:

teen suicide prevention

Read Next: Q&A With Student Suicide Prevention Expert

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