'13 Reasons Why' Raises Discussion On Teen Suicide

The Netflix drama "13 Reasons Why" is causing a lot of discussion and controversy on the topic of teen suicide. The show, based on a 2007 young adult novel, tells the story, through the tapes she made, of a high school sophomore who committed suicide. Each tape addresses one of the 13 people the student claims contributed to her death.

Before I go further, I wanted to post the link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and their phone number is 800-273-8255. For those who would rather text, contact the Crisis Text Line by sending "Hello" to 741-741. From a medical standpoint, Family has some useful information to increase awareness about teen depression, cyberbullying, and teen suicide. I also share an NPR audio podcast from May 18, 2017 below, and a video podcast from a Suicide Prevention Social Media community.

Even though that it is powerful storytelling, I would NOT recommend that teenagers watch this show alone. However, I realize a lot of kids watching this on their phones on the bus. So, kids who watch this show need to talk with their parents, or guardians, or school counselors, or other adults where they process what they're seeing and what they're feeling.

No, I do not think this show will cause teens to consider suicide. However, I think that this show is high risk to trigger those teens struggling with mental illness, or those who are/have been affected by bullying/cyberbullying and sexual assault in the past. It is unfortunate that the program did not originally share information about the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or the Crisis Text Line as above. More information was added at the beginning of this month.

To help raise awareness, and to help you, here are my "13 Reasons" to look out for in teens (and adults) as Warning Signs For Suicide:

  • Talking about death and/or suicide in a casual way
  • Saying they wish they hadn't been born
  • Asking about death or how to commit violent acts
  • Talking about leaving or going away
  • Saying they won't need things soon
  • Not wanting to be around people anymore
  • Seeming sad and remote, instead of happy and social
  • Becoming more angry or edgy
  • Losing interest in hobbies or events
  • Having trouble focusing
  • Showing changes in normal routine, such as sleeping, eating, or grooming
  • Acting out in harmful ways like drinking, using drugs, or hurting themselves
  • Getting in trouble with the law

Addendum: I also invite you to check out the WKBN-TV article, "Local doctor discusses Netflix teenage-suicide show '13 Reasons Why'"