13 Reasons Why – Suicide Warning Signs & Resources for Families

This series, based on the young adult novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, tells the story of a high school student who commits suicide—leaving behind audio tapes aimed at people she believes have had a role in her death. While we are aware that some students have already watched the series, we do not recommend it. The graphic depiction of death by suicide is disturbing, and the message the series sends—which can be interpreted to romanticize suicide—has raised alarm among many youth-oriented organizations. On the other hand, it is important for caring adults to be sensitive to the discouragement, sadness, and hopelessness that may lead some students to consider suicide as an option.

Suicide Warning Signs (source: http://www.nasponline.org/):

  • Suicide threats, both direct and indirect. For example, “I’m going to kill myself” or “I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up”). Threats can be verbal or written, and 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.
  • Emotional distress.
    Guidance for Families (source: http://www.nasponline.org/):

    • 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 that if they do want to watch it, that you want to watch it with them and then discuss the movie.
    • If your child exhibits any of the warning signs above, 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 plan the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
    • As your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk to 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 child’s comments without judgement. 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.

Resources

U.S. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 001-800-273-TALK (8255)

India Suicide Hotline (Aasra): 022-27546669  

South Korea Suicide Helpline: +82-2-715 8600

Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents and Educators

Preventing Youth Suicide: Brief Facts

Save a Friend: Tips for Teens to Prevent Suicide

Step Up Program (Depression and suicide awareness and prevention)