“13 Reasons Why”, Cyberbullying, and How to Talk About it with a Young Person

 

A prominent topic in the media at the moment is the Netflix television series “13 reasons why”. The show is about a young high school girl who suicides, and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes about the reasons she took her own life, directed to individual people. The show covers a range of issues, including bullying, cyberbullying, isolation, mental health, and suicide . Whether you have seen the show or not, talking about such topics with a young person is very important, as they will be faced with these at some stage in their life.

Recently the ABC published an article detailing how to talk about ’13 Reasons Why’ with a young person who may have seen the show.

Talking about bullying, cyberbullying, suicide and mental health can be hard. Research shows that those who are bullied (whether online or face to face), often have poor mental health, are isolated and disconnected, and may not seek help or support . Being connected to people around you is very important for an individual’s wellbeing, and asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

Being connected to others may be different for young people in 2017 than it was for their parents, teachers, or even some siblings. Popular social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram did not exist 20 years ago, and yet are at the centre of young peoples’ lives today. It is important to remember that being socially connected for a young person may include a significant online presence. Feeling connected to people around you is not necessarily always with people you see face to face, and young people often communicate and interact in a way online that they may not feel comfortable doing in an offline context.

Therefore, if someone you care about may be experiencing cyberbullying, the notion of simply turning off the device or deleting an online account may not be feasible. Often, these sites are a link to connections and deleting them can cause more harm than good.

If someone you are concerned about may be experiencing bullying, cyberbullying, or may be suffering from mental health concerns, remember to have a conversation with them. Help is always available.

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