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Concerns raised about 13 Reasons Why

May 17, 2017
child watching tv

The Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay is raising concerns about the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why and its potential impact on the youth of Eeyou Istchee.

Why is CHB concerned about the show?

13 Reasons Why is a fictional TV series that about the suicide of a young woman. We want our communities to know that youth mental health experts worldwide have expressed concern about the show’s content and messages. Maanuuhiikuu Regional Mental Health and the regional Department of Public Health of the CBHSSJB also share these concerns.

Has the show raised concerns outside Eeyou Istchee?

The show has been criticized by suicide awareness and prevention experts for the following reasons:

- The show promotes myths and false ideas about suicide

- The advisories and warnings before and after the show are not strong enough. The show could be very distressing to vulnerable people

- It makes suicide seem cool

- It portrays suicide as a logical decision and the result of clear headed thinking

- It contains a very explicit depiction of suicide

- It depicts sexual violence in a show aimed at young teenagers

- It promotes the false idea that suicide is a way to teach others a lesson

- The show ignores the relationship between suicide and mental illness

What does CHB recommend for parents?

The program is rated TV-MA (may not be suitable for those under 17) and three episodes have "viewer discretion advised" warnings. We do not recommend that any youth under 17 watch the program, and we invite parents to watch the show with their teenage children and to have an open dialogue about the show and its messages.

How does CHB approach youth mental health?

Youth mental health awareness and suicide prevention efforts in our communities are focused on a message of hope. We encourage people to reach out and get help. Don’t give up, don’t get discouraged, there are caring people around you.

What are some of the warning signs to look out for?

Be alert for warning signs of someone in distress, such loss of interest in activities, isolation, frequent crying, increased anxiety, or suicidal ideas. If you are feeling suicidal, or know someone who is, please reach out for help in your community or through a helpline.

Are there resources that people can go to for help?

- www.creehealth.org/health-topics/mental-health

- First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310

- kidshelpphone.ca 1-800-668-6868 (chatline also available)