As you may be aware, the video subscription service Netflix recently released a new series based on the 2007 book by Jay Asher, called “13 Reasons Why.” It is the story of a high school girl who leaves behind tapes after her suicide, tracing the events that led up to her decision to end her life.
The series graphically depicts the character’s suicide and addresses in graphic detail a number of difficult topics such as bullying and sexual assault.
It is currently one of the most viewed programs on Netflix, and some students have already watched the entire series. Experts including Nationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health and JED Foundation have concerns that this series could do more harm than good, especially for youth who may be isolated or vulnerable to suggestive images and story lines.
We would like to encourage families to use the resources below to help in having conversations with your child(ren).
We hope this information provides an opportunity to remind your children about the importance of seeking support from you and from other caring adults in their lives when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Information About Suicide Risk Warning Signs
- Always take warning signs seriously, and never promise to keep them secret. Common signs include: Suicide threats, both direct (“I am going to kill myself.” “I need life to stop.”) and indirect (“I need it to stop.” “I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up.”). Threats can be verbal or written, and they are often found in online postings.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Preoccupation with death in conversation, writing, drawing, and social media.
- Changes in behavior, appearance/hygiene, thoughts, and/or feelings. This can include someone who is typically sad who suddenly becomes extremely happy.
- Emotional distress.
When a student gives signs that they may be considering suicide, take the following actions:
- Remain calm, be nonjudgmental, and listen. Strive to understand the intolerable emotional pain that has resulted in suicidal thoughts.
- Avoid statements that might be perceived as minimizing the student’s emotional pain (e.g., “You need to move on.” or “You should get over it.”).
- Ask the student directly if they are thinking about suicide (i.e., “Are you thinking of suicide?”).
- Focus on your concern for their well-being and avoid being accusatory.
- Reassure the student that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.
- Provide constant supervision. Do not leave the student alone.
- Without putting yourself in danger, remove means for self-harm, including any weapons the person might find.
- Get help. Parents should seek help from school or community mental health resources. Students should tell an appropriate caregiving adult, such as a parent, school psychologist, guidance counselor, administrator, or teacher.
If you have an immediate youth safety/suicide concern, call 911 or the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Psychiatric Intake Response Center at 513-636-4124.