The controversial show "13 Reasons Why" has everyone talking about teens and suicide. The series portrays a high school teen, Hannah, who takes her own life after experiencing a downfall of devastating events with 13 individuals. Hannah tells her story from her point of view, about all the people that could have saved her and moments that were most significant. The show demonstrates the importance of empathy, understanding, communication and listening. Had the events in Hannah's life been different, had someone reached out to her, told her how much she was loved and simply listened, she may still be alive.
Although, many clinicians would agree that teens who watch this show may try to mimic Hannah's tragic end; many would also agree that this show may help teens talk about suicide and hopefully adults can learn to listen. The reality is the more we talk about suicide the less it happens.
Here are just some, 13 to be exact, ways we can try to prevent teen suicide:
1. Connect and reach out to your teen
2. Trust that they do want your help
3. Encourage them to believe in themselves
4. Use positive language when speaking to each other
5. Spend time together, bond over activities you both enjoy
6. Do not use physical, emotional or mental violence
7. Be attentive to your teens emotions
8. Learn not to minimize how they feel
9. Get to know their friends
10. Learn if they are being bullied at school
11. Be a positive role model and model behavior that you would expect from them
12. Communicate and talk about why suicide is not a way out
13. Listen to how your teen feels and hear what they need
We can spend time criticizing a show about teen suicide, or we can learn to use it as a tool to teach teens that suicide is not a solution. It is about time we learn to listen and prevent senseless tragedies. Suicide is never the answer.