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13 Questions to Ask Your Teen About 13 Reasons Why

By May 27, 2017November 27th, 2018Dr. Beatriz Mann, Teen Counseling

Many people worry that if they ask or talk to their teens about suicidal thoughts, they will “plant” the idea in their head. This is NOT true! We introduce some helpful questions you could use to have a productive and safe conversation around such a heavy topic.

What is 13 Reasons Why?

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix show about a high school girl that commits suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes that are distributed to people that she feels contributed to her suicide. There are warnings prior to some of the episodes, indicating that the content could be triggering for someone struggling with suicidal thoughts. But as many of us know, if something is popular and has a warning, teens tend to flock to it.

13 Questions to Ask Your Teen About 13 Reasons Why

If you know your teen has watched this show, you should watch it as well, so you know what your teen has seen and what they are talking about. If your teen expresses an interest in watching it, you might consider watching it with them to help walk them through the experience. Here are 13 questions to ask your teen about 13 Reasons Why.

  1. Which character do you most identify with?
  2. What thoughts or feelings of that character to do you relate to, or resonate with you?
  3. What does bullying or shaming look like at your school?
  4. Do you know of anyone that has been sexually assaulted?
  5. Do things like that happen at parties at your school?
  6. Does your school feel like a safe place? What is the school environment like?
  7. How do you think you would handle some of these situations if they came up for you or your friends? What do you think you would do?
  8. Have you ever felt really hopeless, helpless, or down?
  9. Do you know of anyone at school struggling with suicidal thoughts?
  10. Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose?
  11. Do you have a safe or trustworthy adult to talk to at school?
  12. Have you ever had suicidal thoughts? If this question feels too uncomfortable, you can ask: Have you ever had thoughts of wishing you weren’t around?
  13. Have you ever had thoughts of killing yourself? If this question feels too intense, you can ask: Have you had thoughts of hurting yourself or ending your life? If your teen says they have to ask: Have you ever had a plan of how you would do it?

When talking about depression, bullying, or suicide, it is important that you approach it in a calm manner.

Of course, this topic is difficult to talk about, and if you discover your child has had some of these thoughts or experiences, as a parent it can be very distressing. At the same time, it is important to manage your emotions so that you can be a source of support for your child. In order to be calm, it might be practicing every asking these questions aloud to yourself or your partner, before you talk with your teen.

If your child DOES report having suicidal thoughts, schedule an appointment now and get them connected! If your child reports having these thoughts and a plan or previous attempts, please call 911 or take them to the emergency room! People may say that it is “just a cry for help” or attention. It is important to take any suicidal statement seriously, regardless of the “motivation” behind it! Call today!

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Dr. Mann is a licensed psychologist that specializes in healthy coping, college adjustment, anxiety, personal identity, balance, and mindfulness.

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