"13 Reasons Why" We Need to Listen

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. 

Say No to Bullies

Tis' the season of back to school shopping, open houses and new class schedules. This time of year many teens can be anxiously awaiting the new school year. For many teens this is a positive nervous, excited feeling of the first day of school. But for some it can be very stressful, nerve wrecking and even depressing. 

The topic of bullies is one that never grows old. Bullies can be found in all schools, all grades and in all cities. The population of teens that are in middle school who are bullied is ever growing. Many parents and teens are afraid, worried and simply do not know what to do. Teach your kids how to say no. 

For starters, bullies are weak. They are insecure, lonely, angry and fearful. They pick on kids and teens who are quiet, shy and mostly introverted. Bullies want to feel powerful and they believe they will gain this by controlling the emotions of another. But they could not be more wrong. 

Kids and teens who are bullied are actually strong, have their own mindset and independence. They have to be reminded that they are powerful and can stand up for what they believe in. Standing up as a teen is not always easy, but is possible. Empowering a teen who has been bullied is a step in the right direction. 

As parents, please take the time this school year to talk to your children about bullies. Your child or teen may not have the courage to approach the topic, but it is of upmost importance. Bullying is a serious offense and thus it should be treated as such. Talk to your kids about standing up for what they believe in and about saying no in difficult situations. The more they practice and role play the easier it will be, if they are confronted by a bully.