’13 Reasons Why’: If your kids are watching it, parents should watch too

By Dr. Angelique Jenney
Wood’s Homes Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health

‘13 Reasons Why’ is a series about suicide that is available for viewing on Netflix. The story is based on the 2007 novel ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’, written by Jay Asher. It is about a female high school student who kills herself because of several problems with other students at her school.  She leaves behind cassette tapes for a friend that she recorded before committing suicide.  And there are 13 reasons why she did.

This show would be very difficult to watch if you have experienced any similar hurting  in your life as it could trigger memories or other difficult feelings.

One of the things we know is that parents are often just a few moments behind their trend-savvy kids – and when you mention this show you are likely going to find out they’ve already watched it through to the end. If that’s the case, ask if they would introduce you to it; perhaps they would be willing to introduce you to the first and last episodes.  If they feel strongly about a particular episode in between they might also choose to share it with you – and that in itself could be telling. The most graphically disturbing episodes come with a viewer warning which should prompt a parent to gently state:

Hmmm, do you think we are ready to see this part? We can skip it entirely or stop it if it gets too upsetting.”

Children under 14 years should probably not view those episodes at all.

If nothing else, watch the 30-minute Netflix addition called ‘13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons’– which has the creators, the novelist and the show’s characters talking about what they hoped viewers would take away from this show. It provides an excellent opportunity to educate yourself and have a great conversation with your kids about all of the timely and important topics introduced.

Here are 13 reasons why parents or caregivers should watch (and tips for discussion starters):

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Mental health: A lifetime journey

By Dr. Jane Matheson, Wood’s Homes CEO

It’s Mental Health Week in Canada, and I am thinking about my children and grandchildren being born.

In those first moments, we count fingers and toes, check Apgar scores and marvel at the wonder of the body – everyone carefully evaluating physical health. In those first moments, we do not think about that wonderful infant’s mental health – it is invisible and to be determined.

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