Dear Editor:

Netflix has recently released a series called “13 Reasons Why”. As a parent and/or concerned adult, you should be aware of this show and know that your child or friend may have come into contact with the show. This series has become an instant attraction to young people. Across the country, youth are binge watching this series and are reacting to it with friends and on social media.

“13 Reasons Why” is a series about a young high school girl, who takes her own life and sends out 13 cassette tapes to those whom she blames for her death. While the show is fictional, the series is extremely graphic and raises significant concerns about the emotional safety of those watching it – especially for those youth who may have had some experience with mental health issues, suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

The Mental Health Association of Monmouth County and Preferred Behavioral Health Group want you to be aware of this series and how to provide some safety for youth around the show’s content. In order to address these issues with teens we need to remember to ask about what they are feeling and seeing and we need to listen. While there are some very disturbing and graphic scenes and ideas, there are some strengths in the series that provide excellent opportunities to have a conversation about suicide prevention and how to protect yourself and your friends. We encourage parents to watch the series with their children and have these conversations openly rather than simply criticizing a series that most teens are already watching. Please call our office for a handout from the National Association of School Psychologists which provides some excellent guidelines for discussion and response whether you are an educator, mental health professional, parent or youth.

We encourage you to share these talking points, as well as the resources listed below, with anyone who has contact with youth including teachers, counselors, parents etc. We understand that this material can be difficult. If you are in need of mental health support for yourself or others, we encourage you to reach out to the following resources.

NJ Hopeline - 1-855-NJ-HOPELINE (654-6735)
2nd Floor Youth Helpline - 888-222-2228 (call or text)
Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth - (732) 235-2810

On behalf of the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County and Preferred Behavioral Health Group, please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments.

Sincerely,

Mary Pat Angelini, CEO
Preferred Behavioral Health Group

Wendy DePedro, President/CEO
Mental Health Association of Monmouth County