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5 Conversations to Have with Your Teens After "13 Reasons Why"

Common Sense Media logo Common Sense Media 4/5/2017 Polly Conway

The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, based on the best-selling 2007 book, is the story of a teen girl who commits suicide, leaving behind a series of tapes that hold the story of her motives. Teens who watch this excellent but extremely dark and dramatic series may find themselves identifying with the characters, including the smart, troubled Hannah Baker. In this story, where not many adults are role models, the kids are left to process Hannah's suicide on their own. Luckily, there are lots of real-world resources for teens who are dealing with mental health challenges or feeling helpless as their friends suffer, as well as many conversation starters to help you talk to your kids:

  • Ask: Have you witnessed or experienced cyberbullying or more traditional bullying? What different forms can bullying take? What can you do to fight it?
  • Do you think 13 Reasons Why romanticizes suicide, or does it provide an important outlet and opportunities for discussion? Or both?
  • Families can talk about the way suicide is addressed on this series. When is it important to talk about mental health, especially if you're worried about a friend or family member? What resources are available to help both kids and adults?
  • What do you think about Hannah's choices? Was it right for her to blame others for her suicide? What are some healthy ways to cope when relationships, family, and school get overwhelming?
  • Sexual assault, specifically the rape of a main character, plays a large role in this series. Families can talk about resources available to teens; the Crisis Text Line is an excellent way for phone-shy teens to reach out in times of need.

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