Last year, we warned that skyrocketing suicide rates could become a public health epidemic. The number of girls 10 to 14 years old who died by suicide tripled from 1999 to 2014.
This year, the topic re-surfaces with the recent release of Netflix’s series “13 Reasons Why,” coinciding with national mental health awareness month in May. The show was produced as a passion project by Selena Gomez and is based on Jay Asher’s young adult novel. The story is about a teenage girl who died by suicide and left 13 cassette tapes with her reasons for killing herself.
The controversial series has come under fire for being a “dangerous fantasy that romanticizes suicide.” As NBC News reports, Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” carries danger of glorifying suicide, experts say. Clinical director of the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, Phyllis Alongi feels the show was produced “irresponsibly” because children are watching it without supervision. Kids need someone to help them process the scenes on screen and distinguish plot device from reality.
Mental health experts and suicide prevention centers were so concerned about the series that Suicide Awareness Voices of Education and JED published 13 talking points for young adults and parents/guardians to discuss while watching the show.
The highly rated program is incredibly popular and has been reported by Variety as the most tweeted about show so far this year. Parents and experts fear the series will spark other teenagers to take their own lives or engage in other dangerous behaviors.
The reality is suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24, and the rate continues to rise. Teenagers are in a precarious mental state and we need to help them live long, healthy lives. Suicide should never come across as glamorous. It’s a horrific decision that impacts family, friends and everyone affected by the tragedy.
By phone: If you — or someone you know — need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.
By text: Volunteers are also available by SMS now — Crisis Textline offers nationwide, free crisis intervention via text message 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In person: If you unable to spend time with supportive family and friends, third party resources are available in person. For example, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has chapters in every state.
Mental Health Daily suggests coping strategies that include positive distraction by reading, writing or watching movies and television. Exercise is highly recommended because it provides a natural antidepressant effect quickly by stimulating endorphin production to boost mood.
Healthline reminds everyone to take their prescriptions as directed by medical professionals. Drug compliance is extremely important. Suicidal feelings can increase with improper medication dosage. If prescription drugs are producing negative side effects, speak with a doctor about alternative options — consult a professional before changing your medical schedule.
Co-authored with Shane Power, President of Watertree Health, where Lisa works in communication and business development.