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What’s Wrong (and Right) with ’13 Reasons Why’

November 20, 2017

Episode screening, discussion to be held Nov. 29 at NFA

NORWICH – With a sequel to the controversial Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” on the horizon, the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network will hold a town hall discussion on Nov. 29 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., in Norwich Free Academy’s Slater Auditorium, 108 Crescent St. The discussion will follow a screening of one of the episodes.

Seating is limited and registration is required. Anyone planning to attend should call 1.855.HHC.HERE (1.855.442.4373) or visit HartfordHealthcare.org/events to complete registration.

“13 Reasons Why” captured the attention of teens and adults alike when it premiered on Netflix in early 2017. The story of a teenager who takes her own life and leaves behind tapes chronicling the 13 reasons, the show has been criticized for its graphic themes, which include suicide, sexual assault, substance abuse and bullying. But it has also generated dialogue on the topic of suicide.

“It’s important to be talking about these things with our kids,” said Dr. Harold Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief at the Institute of Living and moderator of the event. “It’s important to be having that discussion in more than a superficial way, and this forum allows us to do that.”

The accessibility of shows like “13 Reasons” through Netflix and other platforms – with another season of the show debuting in early 2018 – means it’s not enough to simply ban adolescents from watching a show. Parents need to have meaningful conversations with their teens about the topics.

“We live in a world where a show like this is literally two clicks away,” said Dr. Laura Saunders, child and adolescent psychologist at the Institute of Living and one of the panelists scheduled to speak at the November 29 event. “We don’t always know what our kids have access to, but we do have control over creating a dialogue. Listening is hard, but that’s what they need — and that’s one of the important things ‘13 Reasons Why’ shows us.”

In addition to Drs. Schwartz and Saunders, Paul Weigle, MD, associate medical director and child and adolescent psychologist at Natchaug Hospital, will be part of the speaking program.

Light refreshments will be served.