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Suicide Prevention

13 Reasons Why (Netflix series)—Cautionary Note

This is a cautionary note and resources to help you negotiate through conversations regarding the very concerning Netflix Series titled 13 Reasons Why. This is a Netflix series developed that was based on a book of the same title. This is a FICTIONAL story of a youngster who has died by suicide and made 13 tapes that were sent to other students and a school counselor that she believed were “responsible” for her death. To oversimplify suicide in this way can be very dangerous to vulnerable youth. While suicide can be considered very rare, it is one of the top causes of death for teens and young adults; most of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health disorder.

This series VERY graphically depicts not only the suicide, but rape, drug abuse and drinking and emotional, physical and cyber-bullying (all of which was normalized). The producers believed they were doing a good thing drawing attention to suicide and bullying; however, it is not done with best practice in mind. Further, it does not address the mental health concerns that this girl was experiencing; she has a great deal of interpersonal and family stress along with faulty perceptions. Mental health issues among youth are common and parents and educators should know are very treatable. There is no shame in seeking treatment for mental health concerns and every community has resources including crisis hotlines or crisis walk-in centers that can be accessed.

Several professional organizations have expressed concern and developed considerations for educators , considerations for parents,  talking points , and a webinar. Please take time to review these and be prepared to discuss this problematic series with your children. This is not a show that I would recommend youth watch—but that train has already taken off, so we need be prepared to dispel all the misinformation, normalization and glorification of suicide, drug abuse and bullying that this show depicts.

Vulnerable youth, youth with a history of suicidal thoughts or attempts, youth with family history of suicide, youth who have been bullied or bully, youth who are marginalized in school or their community may be at heightened risk for suicidal thoughts or actions. Do not hesitate to ask them directly if they have thoughts of suicide/killing themselves (this will not put the thought in their mind). If they do or you are concerned they may be suicidal, get help; your local crisis center has resources for you or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK).


Nancy Buyle
School Safety/Student Assistance Consultant

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What Every Teacher Should Know      Parent and Community


Suicide Prevention and Postvention Resources

  • Suicide Prevention and Awareness Resources When you notice worrisome behavior in your students, and especially when there is concern about suicide risk, you need practical suggestions and specific advice. These resources will help you better understand the relationship between suicide and teens, risk factors, warning signs, and protective factors. Find information on the appropriate steps to take when you feel you have identified an at-risk student. Plus, learn how to assess your attitude towards suicide, and find out the truth behind suicide myths.
  • Youth Suicide Prevention School-based Guide The Youth Suicide Prevention School-Based Guide is designed to provide accurate, user-friendly information. The Guide is not a program but a tool that provides a framework for schools to assess their existing or proposed suicide prevention efforts (through a series of checklists) and provides resources and information that school administrators can use to enhance or add to their existing program. First, checklists can be completed to help evaluate the adequacy of the schools' suicide prevention programs. Second, information is offered in a series of issue briefs corresponding to a specific checklist. Each brief offers a rationale for the importance of the specific topic together with a brief overview of the key points. The briefs also offer specific strategies that have proven to work in reducing the incidence of suicide, with references that schools may then explore in greater detail. A resource section with helpful links is also included. The Guide will help to provide information to schools to assist them in the development of a framework to work in partnership with community resources and families.http://theguide.fmhi.usf.edu/

Youth Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention: 2017 Resource Guide by Children's Safety Network

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for U.S. children and youth ages 10 through 24, claiming an average of 5,390 lives per year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WISQARS Leading Cause of Death, Ages 10– 24, 2011–2015). The CDC’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that 17.7 percent of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide within the past year and 8.6 percent had attempted suicide within the past year.

This guide divides selected resources into seven main sections: (1) Organizations, (2) Policy and Legislation, (3) Evidence-Based Practices, (4) Program Planning, (5) Campaigns, (6) Data and Research, and (7) Resources and Publications. There are subsections on (1) Bullying; (2) Family; (3) Electronic, Social, and Mass Media; (4) Mental Health; (5) Schools; (6) Substance Use; (7) Self-Harm; (8) LGBTQ Youth; (9) American Indian/Alaska Native Youth; and (10) Rural Youth. Each topic-specific section contains organizations, webpages, evidence-based practices, workshops, toolkits, reports, fact sheets, archived webinars, and journal articles, which appear in that order.