13 Reasons Why: Has Netflix Gone Too Far?
Teen suicide is not glamorous. It leaves a horrific trail of devastation in its wake, with remaining family and friends left to pick up the shattered pieces that in most cases will stay broken for life. So it’s little surprise that the television series, 13 Reasons Why, currently streaming on Netflix in Australia, is causing such angst.
The show depicts a young woman who suicides. It contains very confronting and graphic messaging and imagery inclusive of suicide method and means.
Parents and the mental health community are united in raising the alarm. Parents must remain vigilant; as headspace warns in a statement recently made, this show contains potentially dangerous content that may lead to a distressing reaction (or worse, copycat behaviour) in young people.
There is no glamour or thrill in teen suicide.
13 Reasons Why is a revenge fantasy. Its delivery serves to trivialise and normalise what will always be a senseless cause of death. Watching the show, young people could be forgiven for thinking that an act of suicide is an acceptable reaction to having problems and stresses. It isn’t. Suicide in youth is a life unfinished.
What the show doesn’t tell young audiences is that feeling stressed – or even upset, hurt or sad – is a normal part of life. Life is full of ups and downs and there are very good services around – such as Kids Helpline and headspace – that assist young people to cope with emotional issues.
Many young people will even experience suicidal thoughts. It’s fine to work through these feelings through talking; the important factor is to focus on the feelings rather than the act itself, which is where 13 Reasons Why is potentially so damaging. Youth is a vulnerable group, often susceptible to copycat tendencies.
How to talk to youth about suicide.
You can talk to teenagers about suicidal tendencies and thoughts. Suicide is caused by a range of factors and can be very complex. Young people may look for answers where there aren’t simple solutions. Avoid blame; it is simply not helpful.
It’s also important not to focus on the method of suicide, but the feelings associated with it. A young person who has lost someone to suicide may experience a range of feelings; anger, confusion and a sense of contribution or responsibility. It’s extremely important to talk through these feelings and a properly trained and experienced counselor can be a great friend in these circumstances.
If you are worried about a young person being at risk of suicide, it’s important to discuss your concerns with them. Be calm and non judgmental. Ask direct questions and give them the opportunity to give you truthful, open answers.
Contact New View Psychology today if you need to speak with an experienced, appropriately qualified child or adolescent counsellor.
Phone us on 1300 830 687, 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday, AEST, or drop us a line and we’ll get in touch. http://newviewpsychology.com.au/contact-us/