Netflix series '13 Reasons Why' facilitates conversations about mental health awareness

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - Some of the most important discussions in schools across the country center on suicide, bullying and rape.

Those same topics are also talked about and shown in the Netflix original series "13 Reasons Why.”

It is a fictitious show about a teenager's suicide and the 13 tapes she leaves behind that explain why she took her own life.

"Everybody is talking about it, it's crazy," said high school student Anna Stryjewska.

Heather Timmis, marriage and family counselor at Nick Finnegan Counseling Center said she watched the show and she believes it's OK. to watch it with your teenagers!

“The best thing you can do is directly head on discuss it and bring it up. You're not going to put the thought in their head, it's already there,” Timmis said.

However, mother of three, Jacel Dickson said her kids will not see it until they’re older.

“You have to have some life experience to understand some things,” she said.

Timmis said the show is better reserved for high school age and older but encourages parents to take this as an opportunity to discuss what the show is not addressing, mental health.

“One of the things the show leaves out is talking about mental health and talking about, you know, if she’s feeling depressed already, how long has she had these thoughts, has she tried to get help from them, or talk to her parents about them,” Timmis said.

Dickson says she's not going to budge with her girls, but she secretly loves the show and is thankful for what it’s teaching her as a parent.

“They [the parents in the TV show] are realizing after they lost their child that they didn't really know her. There are questions parents have to ask themselves: How was she able to record 13 cassette tapes, where did she get the private time to do that?” Dickson asked.

Memorial Hermann Hospital wrote this blog to identify signs of suicide:

For teens who are watching, Anna said there's a lesson for them too.

"I’ve started to watch what I do all the time and make sure my actions don't negatively impact people."

If you or someone you know is talking about suicide, there are national and local crisis hotlines that can help:

National 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

Houston 713-HOTLINE (468-5463)

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