Netflix series '13 Reasons Why’ puts suicide in spotlight - KPTV - FOX 12

Netflix series '13 Reasons Why’ puts suicide prevention professionals on edge

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The new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” is gaining popularity on the online streaming website, but professionals dedicated to preventing suicide in young teens say the show has made them uneasy.

The series tells the story of a teenager named Hannah who, after being bullied by her peers, commits suicide. She leaves behind a series tapes to explain why she made the choice to kill herself.

The show is based on the New York Times best-selling novel “13 Reasons Why.”

Despite its popularity, some suicide prevention experts say the show is “glorifying” the act of suicide.

Emily Moser, the director of parenting and youth programs with Lines for Life, said watching a show that illuminates the act of suicide can create a higher risk for young people who are feeling particularly vulnerable.

“All of these issues are real,” Moser said. “Bullying and cyberbullying and peer pressure are pieces of teenage life.”

Moser also adds that the part of the show that involves Hannah leaving clues about her death is not realistic of suicidal patterns in young teens.

“Most of the time when people are in suicidal crisis, they’re really in a high stress, highly emotional state. They don’t usually plan calm, rational tapes or plan to record others for your revenge.” 

According to Moser, the American Association of Suicidology has created guidelines to follow when it comes to telling stories about suicide, and she says “13 Reasons Why” does not follow them.

But instead of boycotting the show, Moser says the best thing for parents to do is to watch the series with their children, and to talk about the aspect of suicide.

She says the most important thing is to explain to teens that there are many ways of getting help when one is having suicidal thoughts or tendencies. 

“You can get help. You reach out for help. Depression is treatable. Most people that attempt suicide don’t die by suicide and there is hope.”

Lines for Life is an organization dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide.

The organization has suicide hotlines for youth and adults. The Lines for Life Youthline is 877-968-8491. Adults can call 800-273-8255 or text “273Talk” to 839863.

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