Youth, Depression, & "13 Reasons Why"

Depression is the most common mental illness among teenagers and it is something that parents, mentors, and youth workers need to know about.  We have 140 teenagers enrolled in our youth program at Northgate, and I regularly discover that more and more of them are struggling with anxiety and/or depression. 

On Wednesday May 3rd we have invited a special guest speaker, Gail Mueller, to talk with our youth about depression. We want them to know we are there for them, that God loves them, and that there are resources available should they need help.

It seems that God has orchestrated the timing of this night. Depression and suicide are hot topics right now; not only because it’s a prevalent struggle for our kids, but because of a new show released on Netflix called ‘13 Reasons Why’.  I heard about it a couple of weeks ago and soon became aware that many of our youth were watching it.  I decided that as an adult presence in their lives I should take a look; I just finished watching it yesterday.

‘13 Reasons Why’ is an emotional rollercoaster. It is extremely popular among teenagers and adults alike, but I discovered that it’s not popular among many professional therapists and psychologists.  The show depicts the events and relationships that precedes a high school girl’s decision to commit suicide. It is gut wrenching, heart breaking, riveting, and compelling, but it is also misleading and has been labeled as dangerous and troubling for a variety of reasons. After watching the series, and reading many different articles, I have to agree. There are some positive messages and conversations that can come from this show, but in my opinion there are some pretty dangerous messages as well.

Parents, be cautious about this television series, and not just because it’s rated TV-MA. It isn’t for kids, of any age, in my opinion. Instead of sharing my own thoughts on the series, below are links to a couple well written articles that explain the oversights, poor messages, and even dangerous themes that are included in this narrative. Please take the time to read the articles and to prayerfully consider what they have to say before deciding whether or not to let your kids watch it. If you do let them watch it, I strongly suggest you watch it with them.

Youth (6th-12th grade) and parents are encouraged to join us on Wednesday May 3rd to hear Gail Mueller’s presentation on depression!

6:30 pm: Parent session with Gail (activities for youth provided)

7:00 pm: Youth session with Gail including worship.


“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23)

In Him,

Dan Thorson (Youth Director)


This article from USA today, written by a young woman who struggled for years with depression, does a great job at describing the dangerous messages ’13 Reasons Why’ gives to those thinking about suicide.

From a Christian Organization that works with youth.

Here’s is Focus on the Family’s ‘Plugged-In’ movie review website’s article.