As a child psychologist and high school administrator, I would like to commend Beth Teitell for choosing to cover Netflix’s immensely popular “13 Reasons Why” from a community health perspective (“Teen suicide show raises alarms for parents,” Page A1, April 29) and for citing the excellent statement from the National Association of School Psychologists.
As Teitell notes, clinicians, parents, and educators have observed that the graphic imagery in “13 Reasons” may adversely affect teenagers already struggling with self-injurious or suicidal impulses. They have also leveled valid criticism at the damaging and dangerous messages the series puts forth to its teen viewers: It glamorizes suicide; it characterizes suicide as a form of revenge; it characterizes parents and educators as ineffectual at best; it fails to mention the primary — and treatable — cause of suicide: depression.
And I’d like to add one more to the list. “13 Reasons Why” portrays teenagers as one-dimensional, and not very smart. The scores of students I have come to know — no matter what their psychiatric vulnerabilities — are immeasurably more intelligent, thoughtful, and interesting than Hannah and her classmates. Let’s not let this series affect our view of real high schoolers, or their view of themselves.