13 Reasons Why has just come out with its second season and it was a doozy. I thought season 1 was rough, but I left season 2 feeling completely hopeless and sad and like a big pile of garbage. Mental Health Counselors came together from all over the world to voice their fears on the dangers of this show.
Here’s the thing. Yes, it is “just” a TV show and made for entertainment only. However, when you show, in graphic detail, teenagers committing suicide, self-harming, using drugs, sexual assaults and trying to shoot up a school, with NO healthy alternatives or support systems- we have a major issue.
When I finished the season feeling like “what’s the point of anything?”, I immediately started to worry about my kid clients struggling with these exact issues. I had to discuss this show with every single client to address the triggers in the show. Talking to an 11 year old about watching a scene with sodomy is NOT something I wanted I get into in my career, but here we are!
So, it’s absolutely critical for parents to be checking in with their kids about this show. They will probably roll their eyes and tell you they are fine, but you need to get in there! Everyone has an opinion on this show, including your kid.
Here are some key questions to start a dialogue with your kid:
- What did you think of the show?
- What do your friends think about the show? Have any of your friends ever said anything that made you worry about them?
- A lot of characters were very lonely and felt misunderstood. Have you ever felt like any of the characters?
- Have you ever tried to cut yourself or attempt suicide? What was going on?
- The rape scenes were graphic in the show. Has anyone ever tried to force you to do something sexually that you did not want to do?
- Has anyone ever bullied you at school? How did you handle it? Is the bullying still going on right now?
- I want you to feel like you can come talk to me about anything. Was there a reason you didn’t feel like you could come to me when you were feeling ______.
- What was it like watching the scene where Hannah kills herself? Talking about suicide can be scary or embarrassing, but there is always another way to find help. There is always another person or support to find.
- What was it like watching the scene where Tyler gets sodomized then tries to shoot up the school?
- If you feel like you cannot come to me, do you know healthy adults you can go talk to if you ever start feeling lonely or hopeless?
It’s important to listen without judgement. It can be difficult for anyone to be vulnerable with their feelings, even if it is just you and your kid. If your kid opens up and tells you something serious- don’t panic! Just listen and then hop online and find a counselor. If your kid says they are currently feeling suicidal, check out this blog post.
Finally, even if you throw a couple of these questions out there and don’t get any meaningful response, you have at least communicated with your kid that you are open to talking. That alone can be a game-changer in a relationship. Both the first and second season of the show left with no real resources for kids to turn to when they are struggling. Communicating support and comfort to your children will let them know you are a safe person to talk to, and they will come when they need you.
It might “just” be a TV show, but how mental health is portrayed in media is important! Young kids about 10-11 years old are watching this show! I agree with showing reality but lets also show the reality of a HEALTHY individual and finding the right support system.
On that note, I have an exciting new podcast project coming up that I will announce shortly! Stay tuned!