Let's talk about suicide. We tend to shy away from hard topics as a society, but the new Netflix Original, 13 Reasons Why, confronts suicide head on. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little worried when I first starting watching, that the show was sensationalizing suicide. But after watching, I see it as a way to connect with the millennial generation and get them talking about suicide and other important, yet stigmatized issues that are so present in schools these days. So if you watch, take the Hollywood spin with a grain of salt, but the issues and pain portrayed in the show are real.
Life's adversities can be painful. Suicide, sexual assault, rape, and bullying are all events that happen every single day throughout the U.S. and the world. Many people feel that they can't reach out for help because there is stigma, shame, and judgement. Pain, grief, and fear are normal, human reactions to these horrific events. Like Hannah said early in the show, “it’s what we do after the pain to continue to live our lives is what gets us through.” Hannah didn’t follow her own advice and her solution, suicide, was not a normal reaction in how to deal with these things. Yes, we are all guilty of pushing people away when we need them most. Sometimes it's easier to be isolated in your pain than to be vulnerable and reach out. I encourage you to access your inner strength and break down those barriers by asking for help when you truly need it! Remember to be thoughtful with who you choose to reach out to when in need. And if someone doesn’t respond or listen the way you hope, try again and again!
Ways to access your inner strength:
- Listening to your favorite song (the song that gets you amped and confident)
- Words of affirmation (telling yourself that your strong enough to ask for help)
- Power posing (posing like a super hero- hands on hips, chest out, for 2 minutes)
- Exercise (just move your body!)
Social media and today’s technology (smart phones, tablets etc.) are a generational concept where there is no safe space. Teen brains (and some adult brains) are so connected to their phones and devices that they forget to connect in person. As members of the community; adults, therapists, teachers, concerned parent etc., we can help by starting to understand just how much of an impact the technological connectedness of this teen generation influences them. Rumors, peer pressure, and bullying are instantaneously seen by hundreds of kids in one school and can easily be spread to thousands of other kids by lunchtime. We can take the initiative to educate these teens with tools, coping and communication skills to cope with such hardships.
Ways adults can help:
- Really listen to what they are saying, and what they’re not saying.
- Try to empathize and understand what their world looks like.
- Turn off the “parent alarm”- the one that goes off and turns into lectures.
- Talk about the hard topics, and keep talking about them.
- Remind them that you’re a safe adult to confide in.
- Reach out to a counselor to learn the differences between healthy and unhealthy coping.
- Engage in your own healthy coping.
A line used in the show repeatedly was, “you don't know what's really going on in another person's life.” Empathy, compassion, and vulnerability are needed now more than ever.
If you, or anyone you love, might be struggling with suicidal thoughts please reach out:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Or text START to 741741
For those of you interested in prevention, learn more here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide/
Below is a link with some serious talking points for discussing 13 Reasons Why from the JED and SAVE Foundations due to the triggering and graphic nature of the show. This can be a useful tool for adults to have nearby when discussing the show with teens.
Aurora Owen, LPC