Many of you have either seen or heard about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. It’s a fictional story based on the novel by Jay Asher about a teenage girl that dies by suicide and the events leading up to her death. The series tackles difficult issues such as suicide, bullying, and sexual assault and has created debate and mixed reactions.  Despite the controversy surrounding the series, it has opened up an opportunity to discuss the challenges of bullying and mental health issues experienced by teens.

The series deals with the serious mental health conditions of suicide and depression, a leading cause of suicide. Below is important information from the JED Foundation and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), for teens to consider if you’ve watched or plan to watch 13 Reasons Why.

  • 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 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for confidential, professional help 24/7.
  • Suicide is not a common response to life’s challenges or adversity. The vast majority of people who experience bullying, the death of a friend, or any other adversity described in the series do not die by suicide. In fact, most reach out, talk to others and seek help or find other productive ways of coping. They go on to lead healthy, normal lives.
  • 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 somebody you know is in immediate danger, dial 9-1-1

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, here are some helpful resources:

  • National Suicide Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255 or text “start” to 741- 741, Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week..
  • Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline: Call 1-800-422-0009, Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Grassroots Crisis Intervention Hotline (Columbia, MD): Call  1-410-531-6677, Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
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