For the last couple of weeks a controversial dramatic series called “13 Reasons Why” has had much of the world speaking about the issue of teen suicide. The 13 hour Netflix series depicts graphic themes of suicide, bullying, sexual assault, and drug use. While many wish only those mature enough to handle the content would watch, that’s just not realistic. The fact is many young people are watching, and many parents are wondering what the fuss is all about and whether this show might actually be dangerous.
With all this in mind, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools is hosting an information session for parents tonight at St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School. In a press release, RDCRS points to aspects of the series which cause concern to professionals. “suicide prevention experts are raising concerns about the potential risks posed by the sensationalization and glamorization of youth suicide. Research on suicide and “copycat suicide”, highlights a clear link between direct and indirect exposure to suicidal behavior and increased suicidal behavior in persons at risk for suicide. This is especially true for adolescents and young people and particularly with sensational portrayals of suicide or inadvertent glorification of the suicide victim. This applies to both non-fictional and fictional suicide reports.
It is important to emphasize that viewing this show will NOT cause suicidality in healthy, mentally stable individuals. However, for vulnerable students who may be experiencing mental health problems, thoughts of suicide, and/or perceived social isolation this can increase their risk.”
Associate Superintendent Dave Khatib spoke to Todayville about the information session.
“13 Reasons Why” – Parent Information Session
7 to 9 PM
St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School
3821 39 Street
- Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While we don’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
- If they exhibit any of the warning signs below, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
- Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
- Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.
- Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.
Always take suicide risk warning signs seriously, and never promise to keep them secret. Establish a confidential reporting mechanism for students. Common signs include:
- Suicide threats, both direct (“I am going to kill myself.” “I need life to stop.”) and indirect (“I need it to stop.” “I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up.”). Threats can be verbal or written, and they are often found in online postings.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Preoccupation with death in conversation, writing, drawing, and social media.
- Changes in behavior, appearance/hygiene, thoughts, and/or feelings. This can includesomeone who is typically sad who suddenly becomes extremely happy.
- Emotional distress.Suicide is never a solution. It is an irreversible choice regarding a temporary problem. There is help. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, talk to a trusted adult.
- Suicide Information and Education Services 403-342-4966.
- Kid’s Help Phone (24-hour, 7 days a week) 1-800-668-6868
- Kids Help Phone Website link (kidshelpphone.ca)