NASHVILLE, TN (WMC) - The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) is warning parents, their children should not watch the new Netflix's series 13 Reasons Why without a parent present.
Based on the novel by Jay Asher, the show portrays a teen's suicide and the aftermath.
TSPN said the portrayal of suicide in mass media has been connected to increased incidents of suicide, especially if these portrayals are not accompanied by notices about available suicide prevention and/or mental health resources that viewers/readers can contact if they themselves are suicidal or severely depressed. This contagion effect has been documented as far back as the eighteenth century and confirmed by extensive research.
The group said at minimum Netflix's series should have included some reference to a suicide prevention resource, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line (text "TN" to 741741). The group acknowledged that the series Beyond the Reasons offers the information, but viewers must wait until after the show to see it.
TSPN said the portrayal of death by suicide in 13 Reasons Why has aroused considerable controversy within the mental health community, especially those who work in the field of suicide prevention.
The group added, "While 13 Reasons Why is far from an ideal portrayal of youth suicide, with the proper guidance it can serve as a tool for a deeper discussion about suicide, mental health, and other issues."
The group also offered three other conversation starters to share with your children while watching the series:
- The experience the lead character, Hannah, had with her school counselor, is not typical. Most counselors and mental health professionals can provide help for life challenges and mental illness, and if the person you see first can’t or won’t help you, keep trying and keep talking until you find someone who can. Remember that hotlines are also options.
- While the series portrays several characters as having contributed to Hannah’s death, in reality no one person can or should be blamed for a suicide. Mental illness is a factor in 90 percent of all suicides, and external factors usually cannot entirely explain why someone chooses to take his or her life. Many people experience bullying, assault, and other trauma without dying by suicide.
- Hannah’s death may be the start of this story, but in real-life, suicide is the end. There can only be a happy ending, or at least one you can work with, if you keep living. If you choose to die, you will not only miss out on those better days, but cause heartbreak, guilt, and psychological damage for everyone around you. Research shows that the average suicide affects 115 people—25 of whom will be affected deeply enough to require therapy or intervention.
Below are sixteen warning signs that point towards possible suicide:
- Talking about suicide, death, and/or no reason to live
- Preoccupation with death and dying
- Withdrawal from friends and/or social activities
- Experience of a recent severe loss (especially a relationship) or the threat of a significant loss
- Experience or fear of a situation of humiliation of failure
- Drastic changes in behavior
- Loss of interest in hobbies, work, school, etc.
- Preparation for death by making out a will (unexpectedly) and final arrangements
- Giving away prized possessions
- Previous history of suicide attempts, as well as violence and/or hostility
- Unnecessary risks; reckless and/or impulsive behavior
- Loss of interest in personal appearance
- Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
- General hopelessness
- Recent experience humiliation or failure
- Unwillingness to connect with potential helpers
For more information about suicide prevention, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line (text "TN" to 741741).