13 Reasons Why…Not
The reality of television is not what it was like in the past when a family would have one TV and the entire family would crowd around to watch a show together. Now, your kids could be watching almost anything, at almost any time, as shows are available on phones, iPads, laptops, and televisions!
The Netflix Series, 13 Reasons Why, revolves around a 17 year old, Hannah Baker, who takes her own life. She leaves behind 13 audio recordings outlining 13 reasons why she made the decision to end her life.
People of all ages are binge-watching the Series, as only one can with Netflix ;)! In its first week alone, there were 3,585,110 tweets about the Series. Proof that people are watching it and then, posting about it!
School Districts across North America are warning parents of this series and suggesting that people don’t watch it, as they feel it glorifies suicide. I’d like to take a different perspective and actually invite you to watch it.
I’d like to walk you through watching it and offer a perspective on mental illness that I hope you find enlightening. I don’t believe in shutting our eyes and ears and not discussing what could be our children’s reality with them. Or, perhaps even your own reality or somebody else you love.
I want to give you the tools to be able to recognize what mental illness is and what it may manifest so that you can look for signs in your house or classroom, as well as teach kids to be aware of it for themselves or people who cross their path.
The Netflix Series contains very graphic depictions of violence, including a rape scene in Episode 12 and the actual suicide in Episode 13. I implore you to, at the very least, watch those episodes if you have even the slightest indication that your child has watched them. I’ve had numerous parents suggest to me that they will not watch it. I hope this conversation changes their mind.
My goal is to give you some guidance from the standpoint of a social worker, teacher, tutor CEO, parenting author and parent myself. I’ve worked with a lot of parents and a lot of children in my over two decades of doing this work. I wrote my book, Parenting…With A Twist: 12 Positive Parenting Tips to Raising Success-Ready & Confident Children to give parents a go to manual to help them be the best parents EVER.
Our family that was old enough so a 13 year old, almost 17 year old, 21 year old and my partner and I watched it together. One of the first conversations it led to was the question — what does mental illness look and feel like.
Our eldest son, the almost 17 year old, has mental illness tendencies that cause him to make certain decisions and choices that to somebody on the outside who does not have an understanding of mental illness, may label as “lazy”, “not trying”, or “just a teen”. However, he had a counsellor once that used an amazing analogy to explain depression to him so that he could then explain it to others.
Think of a person who is swimming in the ocean and doesn’t see land or any other structure or person in sight. After swimming for awhile that person may get tired, and feel overwhelmed. In this case, they may start going under and barely be able to come back up for air. Experiencing mental illness can feel this way. And the key is: what can help somebody to not give up but continue to swim? We will give 13 Reasons Why…Not to choose to stop swimming. In other words, 13 Reasons To KEEP Swimming!
- What is your children’s reality?
- Have they experienced any forms of bullying or physical or sexual assault and/or witnessed or heard about it? Have you?
- Do they know what to do in these situations? Do you?
- Do you know the signs of mental illness? Do your children?
Let’s investigate all of this together over the next 13 episodes so that we can help be somebody’s change to be the reason they choose NOT to take their own life.