Focus at Four: Popular show '13 Reasons Why' raises concerns about suicide glorification

Popular Netflix drama "13 Reasons Why" depicts the fallout of a teenage girl's suicide, as the girl herself narrates the reasons why she made the decision.

While some are praising the show for facilitating a conversation surrounding suicide prevention, many mental health professionals and researchers are concerned that the show crossing the line into glorification of suicide.

Jennifer Lueck, a professor and media effects researcher with the Texas A&M Dept. of Communication, says this show never mentions mental illness--and that's a problem. The main character is portrayed as over-dramatic and seeking revenge, but never as having a treatable mental illness. Lueck says, that's unrealistic and furthermore, creates an unrealistic expectation. She also says that children can be heavily affected by what they see on television, especially if they've already been considering suicide.

Jody Schulz, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says that talking to your children about a show like this is important. Helping them to understand the difference between the fiction of "13 Reasons Why" and the reality of the finality of suicide can be helpful.

Schulz also says that simply asking your child "Are you considering harming yourself?" may be exactly the question they're waiting for.
If you are concerned about your child's mental health, there are many resources available. Just a few are listed below.

NAMI Text Help Line: Text "NAMI" to 741-741 for free support 24/7

Call NAMI: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Or call 911 for immediate, often lifesaving assistance.

For more information, NAMI's website can be found below in the Related Links.