Recently, Netflix released a fictional series meant to be a cautionary tale about suicide: 13 Reasons Why. The Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention (NCSP) has compiled guidance for watching and discussing this series from various professional resources that explain the risks associated with unsupervised youth watching the show and talking points for how to discuss the topics presented in the show with you in a healthy and safe way. NCSP encourages conversations about suicide – as well as the risk and protective factors – in a way that provides clear, accurate information, offers help to those in crisis, and opens the door for effective prevention and awareness efforts. The following materials are meant to help people understand how to address suicide and how it is portrayed in 13 Reasons Why and links are provided to additional information and resources. For those in Nevada who would like to attend in-person trainings on how to have these discussions and/or learn to identify youth who may be in need of mental health services, or to view upcoming events to raise awareness for suicide prevention, please visit our website for upcoming opportunities to get involved: www.nvsuicideprevention.org.
Nevada Coalition for Suicide Prevention
Phone (Northern NV): 775-687-0848 Phone (Southern NV): 702-486-8225
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.nvsuicideprevention.org
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW NEEDS IMMEDIATE HELP: Text “HOME” to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
What to do?
In light of the feedback about this show, on the day of its release, JED partnered with Suicide Awareness Voices of America (SAVE) to develop Talking Points to help clinicians and mental health professionals discuss the show with parents, young people and the media. Netflix was supportive of the distribution of the Talking Points and posted them along with crisis services and a link to additional information about young adult mental health on the official 13RY resource website. Netflix also filmed Beyond The Reasons as a tool to help parents and teens frame the conversation and encourage them to speak up and seek help. The show is rated TV MA and there are trigger warning cards prior to three of the episodes.
Here’s what we suggest young viewers and parents consider:
• Make a considered and thoughtful decision about whether or not you choose to watch the show. If you have experienced significant depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts or behaviors in the past, this show may be risky for you to watch.
• If you choose to watch the show and are finding yourself distraught, depressed, or having thoughts of suicide or are having trouble sleeping, stop watching it and let a parent, trusted adult or counselor know. You can also text start to 741- 741 for confidential, professional help 24/7.
• For those who choose to watch the show, consider watching it with others and taking breaks between episodes instead of binge-watching. It would be especially good to watch with parents or other trusted adults. Discuss what you are seeing and experiencing along the way.
• This show does provide an opportunity to explore and discuss the meaning of friendship and how we make choices when we or friends are having troubles or are struggling. Viewers should consider how they might have made different choices from those made by characters in the story.
• Whether you choose to watch this show or not, we should all work to be caring of and vigilant about our family members, friends and ourselves. If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or showing signs indicating a possible suicidal crisis get them (or yourself) to help. Support from trusted friends and family, and professional mental health care when it is needed, save lives every day.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, text 741741 or call 800-273-TALK (8255)
Why does this matter?
It has become increasingly clear that the way suicide is described and depicted in the media can actually raise the risk of “copycat” behavior in a small portion of those seeing or hearing these depictions. Reports or shows that include or describe details of the death (such as how and where it happened) or details about the person who died (which of course would be included in a show or story) or that describe the suicide in a way that appears heroic, romantic or based on simple events or causes, can raise risk for some. Also, language that conveys that suicide is a common, typical or reasonable response to events is problematic. And finally, depictions that suggest that suicide is a way to get back at others or alternatively to get attention or be recalled lovingly are also potentially concerning. See: Action Alliance Framework for Successful Messaging
Given these concerns, we encourage young people to consider whether watching the series is the right choice for them, and we encourage parents and educators to familiarize themselves with our Talking Points and prepare to discuss the series with the young people in their lives who are watching.
We can all help to promote mental health and prevent suicide!
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.
See Preventing Youth Suicide Brief Facts (also available in Spanish) and Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips or Parents and Educators for additional information.
SAFE MESSAGING FOR YOUTH
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.
6. Separate myths and facts.
• 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.
7. Never leave the person alone; seek out a trusted adult immediately. School-employed mental health professionals like your school psychologist are trusted sources of help.
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).
To see the complete NASP publication, including guidelines for educators, visit:
“13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series: Considerations for Educators
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW NEEDS IMMEDIATE HELP: Text “START” to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)