Written by Dr. Kyle Barrett, Director of Spiritual Formation
Many of you may have noticed a new show, 13 Reasons Why pop up in your family’s Netflix feed recently. Originally based on the book 13 Reasons Why, the show follows a group of teenagers through the aftermath of a classmate’s suicide. While we wouldn’t recommend watching it, the realities the show portrays – bullying, body image, shame, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, hook-up culture, social media, and others – should be topics for discussion in our homes.
Below, you’ll find several resources which we hope will be of use as you talk with your kids about some of the issues raised by the show. The highlighted names offer links which you can visit to read and learn more.
Tim Elmore offers a list of helpful questions about suicide to discuss with your student; questions about loneliness, depression, social media, and how to help friends and classmates who might be thinking of suicide.
Megan Basham at World Magazine offers a piercing insight into the show’s approach to the topic. Over and over Hannah Baker’s (the main character) innocence is the reason why her suicide is so tragic. In a story without categories for God or redemption or forgiveness, the implication is that Hannah’s treatment (and suicide) would have been deserved if she weren’t the innocent victim. But, Basham notes, “The Bible deals with far grittier realities than teen fiction, offering hope, love, and forgiveness to those who aren’t so pure as Hannah Baker.”
Russell Moore offers a helpful reminder as well. He writes, “Whatever is streaming on Netflix, though, we can be the kind of church that speaks of life and hope to those who see death as their only way out. Suicidal kids aren’t crazy or freakish or, sadly, all that rare. They are our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters. And, like all of us, they have trouble seeing something in the moment.”
Below you will find other helpful reviews but please know that we are committed to shaping a culture in which students feel safe among their peers and feel the freedom to discuss these kinds of issues with godly faculty and staff.