The new Netflix series parents need to be aware of

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"13 Reasons Why" tells the fictional story of a teen's suicide so if your kids wantto watch it or if they already have, you should know what they're in for and be prepared to be a resource. (Source: wikipedia.org) "13 Reasons Why" tells the fictional story of a teen's suicide so if your kids wantto watch it or if they already have, you should know what they're in for and be prepared to be a resource. (Source: wikipedia.org)
Teen Lifeline runs a crisis hotline with teens helping teens and get calls every day about the issues and challenges faced by the characters in the series. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Teen Lifeline runs a crisis hotline with teens helping teens and get calls every day about the issues and challenges faced by the characters in the series. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Ultimately, they hope the series proves to be what they set out to make it, a cautionary tale. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Ultimately, they hope the series proves to be what they set out to make it, a cautionary tale. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

It is the latest binge-worthy series streaming on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why, and it's getting a lot of attention because of the high-profile name behind it, Selena Gomez.

The series, though, deals with some pretty heavy subject matter. It tells the fictional story of a teen's suicide so if your kids want to watch it or if they already have, you should know what they're in for and be prepared to be a resource.

"It is very realistic. A lot of things that go on in the series are really on point," said Katey McPherson, executive director of the Gurian Institute.

From sexual assault to bullying and ultimately the suicide completion, it is all laid out there onscreen to be consumed all at once.

"The reason it was made is that it is a cautionary tale," said Nikki Kontz, clinical director of Teen Lifeline.

They run a crisis hotline with teens helping teens and get calls every day about the issues and challenges faced by the characters in the series.

She says if your tween or teen wants to watch the series or already has watched it, you should too.

"It brings up such an opportunity for parents to have conversations with their kids because there are aspects of this show that are very true to teens," Kontz said.

It's also an opportunity to listen and offer support.

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, or SAVE, created some talking points to help parents, teachers or anyone else discuss the series with teens.

You can find those tips at https://www.save.org/blog/tips-watching-new-netflix-series-13-reasons/.

The one thing the series did not address that Kontz said she wished it would have was treatment.

"Treatment works. We know that getting help for depression or for suicidal thoughts, it works," said Kontz.

After watching the entire series, both Kontz and McPherson want to emphasize that the end result on screen is not typical of real life.

"That's the fear. I don't want parents to think, 'Oh my goodness that this is going to be the end result for my kid.' This isn't the norm but there's things we can do to make sure that doesn't happen," Kontz said.

There is some concern on both teen advocates part that the show may romanticize suicide to already vulnerable teens even though there are purposeful disclaimers before each episode.

"The realistic side of this series, they can identify with her in the series, so what we don't want them to do is identify to the point of being triggered," said McPherson.

It's another reason why McPherson says parents should be involved providing guidance and support.

Ultimately, they hope the series, which is based on a novel by Jay Asher, proves to be what they set out to make it, a cautionary tale.

"I don't want anyone to watch this film and think this is the way it has to be. There is hope. There is help," Kontz said. "This is one fictional person's story. This isn't every kids' story."

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts call 602-248-8336 (TEEN) or 800-248-8336 (TEEN).

If you’re an adult in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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