For example, one article points out, "Shows like 13 Reason Why connect with young people because they see themselves and their classmates in those stories. This can be a good thing: it offers a real opportunity for youth to process the pressures of adolescence and consequences of certain choices. It also presents real risk. Research shows that exposure to suicide or to graphic accounts of death are triggers for suicidal thoughts and attempts among youth struggling with mental health disorders."
While we respect all those opinions we also wanted to take the opportunity to introduce some important talking points for when these conversations do come about. It's important to never shy away from a conversation about mental health, receiving help, sexual assault and consent, or bullying. As the talking points article will point out, talking about these things does NOT make it more likely that they will occur. Instead discussion is a healthy action to reduce the stigma around these topics so that people can become fully informed and are aware of all the resources available to them.
Whether you have watched the show or not, or choose to watch the show or not, we still encourage these talking points amongst family members, friends, and your community. We want everyone to know how to help anyone in need!
Additional considerations from the National Association of School Psychologists:
GUIDANCE FOR FAMILIES
1. Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While we don’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
2. If they exhibit any of the warning signs above, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
3. Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
4. Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside. 5. Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.
SAFE MESSAGING FOR STUDENTS/CHILDREN
1. Suicide is never a solution. It is an irreversible choice regarding a temporary problem. There is help. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, talk to a trusted adult, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text “START” to 741741.
2. Don't be afraid to talk to your friends about how they feel and let them know you care about them.
3. Be an “upstander” and take actions to reduce bullying and increase positive connections among others. Report concerns.
4. Never promise to keep secret behaviors that represent a danger toward another person.
5. Suicide is preventable. People considering suicide typically say something or do something that is a warning sign. Always take warning signs seriously and know the warning signs.
- Suicide threats, both direct ("I am going to kill myself.") and indirect ("I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up."). Can be verbal, written, or posted online. • Suicide notes and planning, including online postings.
- Preoccupation with death in conversation, writing, drawing, and social media.
- Changes in behavior, appearance/hygiene, thoughts, and/or feelings.
- Emotional distress.
- MYTH: Talking about suicide will make someone want to commit suicide who has never thought about it before. FACT: There is no evidence to suggest that talking about suicide plants the idea. Talking with your friend about how they feel and letting them know that you care about them is important. This is the first step in getting your friend help.
- MYTH: People who struggle with depression or other mental illness are just weak. FACT: Depression and other mental illnesses are serious health conditions and are treatable.
- MYTH: People who talk about suicide won't really do it. FACT: People, particularly young people who are thinking about suicide, typically demonstrate warning signs. Always take these warning signs seriously.
8. Work with other students and the adults in the school if you want to develop a memorial for someone who has committed suicide. Although decorating a student’s locker, creating a memorial social media page, or other similar activities are quick ways to remember the student who has died, they may influence others to imitate or have thoughts of wanting to die as well. It is recommended that schools develop memorial activities that encourage hope and promote positive outcomes for others (e.g., suicide prevention programs).
We encourage everyone to print this card and carry it with them at all times.
We would also urge you to pull out your cell phone right now and save:
1-800-273-TALK (8255). Save a Number, Save a Life!
Crisis Text Line - TEXT “START” TO 741-741
To learn more information about some of these topics or how to receive help please visit any of the following websites:
American Association of Suicidology
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
National Suicide Hotline
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
National Association of School Psychologists
To find a place for immediate treatment near you please visit The SAMHSA Health Treatment Services Locator or visit our Community Resources page.
Finally, remember that we are always available to talk through and process any thoughts and feelings that come along with this show or the topics it covers!
Stay Healthy, Chaps!