After the release of season one in March 2017, child and youth mental health experts saw young people at the hospital who said the show was a trigger or made them feel worse. There was also research performed that showed searches increased for both suicide prevention information and suicide methods/instructions in the general population (Google searches). BC Children's experts share that based on research, there is a very real risk of storytelling, be it in the news, a movie or TV show, increasing suicidal ideation and possible intent.
In an effort to reduce harm and encourage people to reach out for help, BC Children's is creating awareness of the resources out there to support young people and families who are struggling with mental health challenges, and who may be affected by the series. While we are supportive of thoughtful conversations about mental health and suicide, we are concerned that the series portrays these topics in a way that might be triggering for children and adolescents. In particular, young people who are living with mental health and substance use challenges, or who are at risk for suicide, suicidal thinking and self-injury, or some form of trauma (i.e. abuse, bullying, sexual assault), may find the series more triggering than others.
BC Children's experts recommend that parents and caregivers talk about the series with their children, or preferably, watch it alongside them. This can help open the door for children to share their thoughts and feelings and help them better understand make sense of what they're seeing or hearing.
Here are some helpful tips and resources to support safe watching of the series 13 Reasons Why :
- Some young people may find the depiction of suicide, peer conflict and violence helpful to open discussions around issues in their own lives, but they may need guidance to process the show's content and their reactions.
- Parents, caregivers or other trusted adults can help children and youth by opening the door for them to share their feelings and experiences by:
- Staying connected in basic ways i.e. car rides, walks, talking over meals
- Listening in a non-judgemental way
- Staying calm and trying not to overreact
- Taking what youth have to say seriously
- Practice self-care so you can a resource for your loved ones i.e. practicing mindfulness
- If parents or caregivers are concerned about their child or teen, we recommend they consult with their family doctor or pediatrician, or access peer support services available through Family Smart.
- We also have a variety of tools and resources available through the BC Children's Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre (keltymentalhealth.ca) and Foundry.bc.ca to support parents and caregivers navigating mental health challenges.
- We can all experience difficult times in our lives, or intense feelings like sadness, stress and anxiety from time to time, but if these come overwhelming, help is there.
- If you feel you need to talk to someone, try reaching out to a friend, parent or other trusted adult.
- If you're struggling with how to start a conversation with someone, it can be helpful just to tell someone you are in distress and need help, even if you can't explain it.
- Foundrybc.ca has helpful tips to start a difficult conversation: http://ow.ly/xRL830i1Dse.
- If you need help but you are not sure who to talk to, you can call, text or chat for confidential support:
- Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868): toll-free, 24-hour phone counselling, web counselling and referral service for young people.
- Youth in BC: online resource where youth who need assistance can get help by having a real-time online chat (everyday noon – 1am) with a trained volunteer.
- YouthSpace: provides online or text services for emotional support and crisis intervention service for young people under 30.
- Mental Health Support and Information Line (310-6789): provides 24/7 support if you are worried, feeling upset, or just want to talk with someone.