13 Answers for The 13 Reasons Why
An Episode-by-Episode Mental Health Resource Guide for Parents to discuss 13 Reasons with their teen
By now you’ve probably heard some things about a television drama series featured on Netflix called “13 reasons why” (13RW). The premise of the show is that a teenage boy, Clay, receives a set of 13 audio recordings (“the tapes” with 13 reasons) made by his friend (Hannah Baker) just before she killed herself. On each recording, Hannah identifies an experience and person that added to the despair and desperation leading up to her suicide. The show alternates between focusing on what happened in the past as described on the tapes, and what is going on in the present for the rest of the students in the aftermath. Between the “13 reasons” for dying and the experience of the other kids, the series hits many teen mental health topics.
Why do a book on 13 Reasons Why?
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) encourages parents to be willing to watch the series with kids and have “thoughtful conversations about the show… [and] Process the issues…”
Hopefully, the expert commentary about 13 Reasons Why has convinced you to talk about the show with your teen. However, do you feel ready for the potentially tough conversations ahead? I shall be honest. I would not have been prepared to talk about all the complicated issues that come up in the show when I first watched it, and I’m a suicide prevention specialist.
So, I did a ton of research to write this book and be like your coach. We will work through the main topics from each of the 13 Reasons Episodes together so that you can go into those conversations feeling well-informed and prepared.
I see each episode as a question: What could help the characters right now?
After watching the entire season and reflecting on specific concerns and issues, I came up with at least one mental health resource to recommend in answering that question for each of the 13 Reasons episodes.
The 13 Answers for the 13 Reasons:
For the most part, in the chapters that follow, here’s what you can find:
- Why I picked this topic from the episode will be briefly noted. I will do my best to keep “spoilers” to the minimum, but I do want you to know what might come up.
- I provide my primary resource recommendation up front for reference. Based on the research I’ve done for this book, if I had to pick just one resource to give you, then this would be the one. (Don’t worry, I also point out a few others).
- I give you the terminology related to the issue so that you can speak about it intelligently, or do additional research.
- The question “How common is this problem in the real world?” will be addressed with statistics. The show might make some things feel like an epidemic. They probably do that because other places make it seem like those problems hardly ever happen. I provide some numbers to give you a more accurate idea about it.
- The effects of the issue will be briefly noted. Knowing the effects that an issue can have on someone’s mental and emotional health can provide motivation to talk about it.
- I provide additional points to help with your understanding.
- I prompt you to incorporate your experience as part of the discussion. With my assistance, you will be able to help your son or daughter and help yourself, by bringing your personal experience into the conversation.
- The signs or symptoms to look for will be pointed out. Could this have happened to your teen?
- Finally, I help you get started with what to do if the topic is something that has affected your teen (or one of their friends), often including specific tips for talking about the issue.
Book Topics mapped to 13 Reasons:
- Stop the bullying (physical, social, relational, or cyberbullying).
- Support after a suicide.
- Mental health screening and treatment.
- Help for victims of crime.
- Support for gay and lesbian youth.
- Substance abuse prevention and treatment.
- Counter suicide risk, enhance protection.
- Creative approaches to therapy.
- Awareness and prevention of sexual violence.
- Promote safe driving.
- Know the warning signs for suicide.
- Help after rape.
- Seek help from school mental health professionals.