13 Reasons Why - Teenage Suicide

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    It is important that our teens have a safe place to go. That someone: a friend, a parent, or a counselor is available to have the tough conversations that a teen suffering from anxiety and depression needs to have. It’s ok, It gets better, You don’t t have to do this alone, you are loved.

    As a psych nurse who works with adolescents I have had this Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why", on my radar for some time, but I never actually sat down and watched it. It was only during an assessment of a post-suicide admit that I actually heard a patient say she got the idea from watching the series. So off I ran to do a bit of research. I found that the airing of the show was actually banned in Canada and in Australia had a warning that the show should only be watched with parental supervision that my curiosity took off. Finding myself recovering from viral meningitis and a week off work with pay I sat down opened Netflix and sat down to binge-watch the series.

    The storyline reconstructs the last two years in the life of a teenage girl who completed suicide, her reasons for taking her life and the effect this all has on a young man who had a serious crush on her. While most of the episodes deal with typical twenty-first-century teen angst A darker message comes forth in last four episodes, where our victim falls victim to cyberbullying and "SlutShaming", endures witnessing a friend being raped and subsequently being raped herself. This is followed by the complete stupidity of the people who are supposed to formulate a teen's support network. I'm talking about friends, teacher's, parents and counselors. The main character turns to each in turn only to be turned away. Even her would be boyfriend tries but fails to help her. The straw that breaks the camel's back is when she visits a school counselor to report her rape and she is told that if she is unwilling to name her assailant she'll have to "get over it and move on." The young heroine goes home gets into a bathtub and in a very graphic and brutal scene, takes her life by opening her arms from elbow to wrist with a razor.

    The story left me feeling empty, angry and sad. As a survivor of a suicide attempt, I am acutely aware of the torment this character went through. Dealing for months or even years with a depressive disorder and told by folks to get over it or just "try being happy ". It doesn't work that way.

    Nationwide since 2015. Suicide rates for adolescent girls (13-21) have risen approximately 30% while the rate for boys of the same age closely follows. These numbers reflect completed suicides as no one is actually keeping track of the failed attempts (I'm sure the CDC has a file somewhere). One has to wonder what is driving this march towards death and what we can do to curb the alarming trend.

    As the story depicts all too often a troubled teen feels they cannot talk to friends who shame them, Parents who ignore them and counselors who just don't listen or worse yet offer only platitudes.

    Producers of the series state that the show has helped to open a dialog between teens and their parents about the serious issues they face. One of the screenwriters defends the decision to depict the actual suicide so graphically. I was buying right in until I downloaded to book on which the series is based. In the book the lead character does not cut her wrists, she takes pills, and while the series wants to show how each person mentioned on Hannah's tapes feels in the wake of her suicide the book is only concerned with the character of Clay. A young man who had a crush on Hannah and his inability to fathom what led his friend to this final act.

    After years of struggling with my own personal demons, child abuse, and the resultant PTSD, I know that life is something to be treasured and that age has a way of allowing one to settle themselves into a better place to cope with life's challenges.

    It is important that our teens have a safe place to go. That someone: a friend, a parent, or a counselor is available to have the tough conversations that a teen suffering from anxiety and depression needs to have. It's ok, It gets better, You don't t have to do this alone, you are loved.
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Jan 16
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    About hppygr8ful, ADN, RN, EMT-I Guide

    Happgr8ful has is an RN who works with at risk adolescents. She has been in practice since 2003 and is currently working on obtaining a BSN and MHNP.

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    6 Comments

  3. by   Farawyn
    I'm really sorry this is on the Blue Side. I would like to see it cross posted to School Nurses and Psych.

    We actually had an assembly on this. Why we don't encourage the series, but if students did feel they had to watch it, to make sure you (the parent) or someone trusted discussed the series with the child.
    I read the books.
  4. by   Loni.RN
    This post really hits home today. Its my brothers birthday. He would have been 29 years old if he hadn't completed suicide at age 20. Then, two years ago his best friend, who's practically a brother to me too, completed suicide as well. My heart hasn't stopped hurting over these 9 years. Reading similar stories just crushes my heart all over and over again. This tragedy does not discriminate.

    Although I genuinely wish NO ONE ever had to experience the loss of a loved one to suicide or ever feel broken enough to attempt and commit suicide, I am thankful than there is such a large, loving network of complete strangers to lean on in support of one another.

    Just wanted to say that I think of you, even if you believe you are all alone, you're not. I will never judge you and I am sending you love and light. Don't ever give up. Please reach out. Victim, survivor, family, friend. You are worthy, loved, and strong. You are!

    To all of us. Keep fighting. Life is Beautiful! Thank you for reminding me of that on my brothers birthday when I needed it so badly.
  5. by   elizabethgrad09
    I have not read the book or seen the series. I have read criticism in the past that the Netflix series is dangerous because of the phenomenon of "copycat" suicides, such as the OP's adolescent patient. I agree that it is important for parents to help teens process the information. For those who have seen the series or read the books, would you recommend that teens watch the series and/or read the book with their parents? Do you think the benefit of raising awareness of the importance of seeking and providing help to those suffering depression outweighs the potential risks?
  6. by   psychrn4u
    Quote from elizabethgrad09
    I have not read the book or seen the series. I have read criticism in the past that the Netflix series is dangerous because of the phenomenon of "copycat" suicides, such as the OP's adolescent patient. I agree that it is important for parents to help teens process the information. For those who have seen the series or read the books, would you recommend that teens watch the series and/or read the book with their parents? Do you think the benefit of raising awareness of the importance of seeking and providing help to those suffering depression outweighs the potential risks?
    I became aware of this series while doing research on teen suicide. I did ask my 15 year old son if he had watched it and he told me he had. My son is a very confident, straight forward kid who avoids drama at all costs. So when I asked him what he thought he said "It's just a television show."

    After discussing it with patients ages 13 to 17 I found that if a child is already depressed, or feeling pressured or bullied they may be more likely to see the show as a trigger point. As the article mentioned Suicide rate is the fastest growing cause of death among teenagers. The graphic depiction of some of the things that happen in the show: rape, fighting, suicide would make me think that a parent show watch the show with their teen. We can't forbid them to watch it after all the ways they can access media.

    Raising awareness of the suicide epidemic in the country is a good thing but I don't think this series is a useful as the produces try to make it out to be.

    I made it a practice early to read every book my son read and become familiar with the music he was listening etc.... I didn't do it in a helicopter way and I never forbid him to read a book or watch a series, or told him what music to listen too etc. I would discuss with him if I felt something was inappropriate and why. He's 16 now and we have great mother/son relationship. He knows he can talk to me about anything and while I am sure he keeps some things to himself (I'm not stupid) I know he's not afraid to come to me.

    Hppy
  7. by   Mudpinesredneck
    Damn that's deep.

    What I honestly think would help prevent it too is maybe letting our adolescents be in nature. And teaching practical skills. Just giving them something to do.

    Let schools start a fishing club, an off road club. You'd be surprised even what and where a Honda Civic can take you with decent tires and a good driver.

    Let them learn practical skills. Our education system needs a overhaul. Auto mechanic programs, EMT programs in high school.

    But nope. We're too stuck on trying to get every one of them in Ivy League schools. Then life hits them and boom, they're screwed.

    I know when I lived in Ventura County, a lot of kids complained they had nothing to do.

    Parents both working, suburban area, most parties involve alcohol and drugs in copious amounts, anything fun involves gas money

    And you wonder why they not only have a big heroin problem, but a lot of depressed teens.

    My move to Oakhurst was a life changing one, but I'll tell you this

    Our kids have practical skills
    Our kids might be rowdy 4 wheelin punks sometimes

    But we're self sufficient. We have practical skills.

    We don't push our kids into social, financial, and personal success.

    There's always something to do. A new trail to ride your dirt bike, dad's old Square body needs fixing.

    And I haven't heard of many suicides up here.

    Who will commit suicide? The kid who is trapped at home, seeing depressing stuff on his phone all day, with no outlet for his boredom

    Or a country boy that has every ability to let his stressors out in a healthy manner?

    Unless you want to talk about Ron Van Meter and Roderick Sinclair
  8. by   ImTheCuteBoyNursesLove
    Suicide is a real problem. I remember I tried to take my own life because I took allot of abuse in school but remembered my mom carrying me from the hospital when I was a baby and stopped and wen't to a children's suicide hospital. I did not wan't her to feel pain because I couldn't handle hate from people. Most of the people who bullied me are now in prison for other things they did. If I filed charges they would be gone for life. I still have marks on my body from the abuse I took.

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