Mental Health Awareness Month – 13 Things You Should Know

Mental Health Awareness Month – 13 Things You Should Know

Do you know that there is a popular new series on Netflix (“13 Reasons Why”) that is written for a middle-school/ teenage audience? The story is about a seventeen year old girl named Hannah Baker, who ends her life and leaves behind a series of recordings to her classmates that describe the difficult events which led to her decision.  The series is currently being widely viewed and discussed among middle and high school aged kids.  Below are 13 things you should know to identify potential suicidal behavior:

For Families:

* Kids may easily identify with TV characters, especially in programs developed specifically for a middle/high school age audience.

* Conversation about new topics helps teens develop insight and better understand the world around them.

* There is no single cause of suicide.  Suicide is most commonly the combined result of a treatable illness and intolerable stressors.

* Ask your kids if they have watched the show 13 Reasons Why.  Use it as a way to open a supportive conversation with them that sends a clear message that you are paying attention to their emotional well-being and are there for them if they are struggling.

* If you recognize any of the warning signs above, doing be afraid to ask about them.  Raising the issue of suicide does not plant the idea.  Instead, it creates an opportunity to offer help.

* Ask you child if they think any of their friends or classmates are exhibiting warning signs.  Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend.

* Listen to your teen’s comments without judgment. 

* Get help from a community based Mental Health Professional if you are concerned about your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.

For Young Adults:

* Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends about how they feel and let them know that you care

* Be a positive member of your school and reach out or tell an adult if you see someone struggling.

* Never promise to keep secrets that represent a danger toward another person.

* Remember that suicide is preventable.  People considering suicide often say or does something that is a warning sign before taking action.  Always take warning signs seriously.

* Never leave a suicidal person alone – find a trusted adult and tell them what is happening.

Adapted from National Association of School Psychologists (2017). 13 Reasons Why Netflix series:  Considerations for educators (handout), Bethesda, ME: Author.