With the popularity of the Netflix hit show “13 Reasons Why”, viewers have been discussing suicide like never before. Some conversations have been focusing on what could have been done to prevent the character’s tragic end. Should someone have seen the signs of a depressed high school girl struggling with mental illness and suicidal ideation? Who is to blame: the school, her parents, her peers, or herself?
Now, I LOVE advocacy, especially for mental health and suicide prevention. The actors and actresses of “13 Reasons Why” even got Project Semicolon tattoos in honor of the suicide prevention campaign and the recent suicide of the movement’s founder. If you want to follow them, go for it. Show some semicolon pride, start conversations about suicide prevention, teach others of the signs of suicidal people and how to effectively help them.
- Get a Project Semicolon tattoo or shirt or mug or whatever just to be a part of a trend. Suicide prevention movements are meaningful, not trendy. It is meant to SAVE LIVES, not fit in. If you cannot take it seriously, don’t participate. It isn’t ‘cute’; it is life-saving.
- Make those suicide jokes of things like “Welcome to my tape”… first of all, suicide is NOT a joke. Second of all, this joke is often made about very trivial things, as if Hannah killed herself over nothing, as some attention-seeking, melodramatic girl. Did you not get the point of the show at all? Even if you think rape, constant bullying, loss of friends, sexual harassment, guilt, etc. are not justifications for taking one’s own life, people process things differently and what may not be a big deal for one person may be detrimental to another, even causing depression (including the symptom of suicidal ideation) or PTSD.
- Think that being sad is the same level as severe, crippling, suicidal depression. Sadness can be healthy, if in proportion to the trigger and does not interfere with one’s life. Depression is not an emotion or mood, it is a MENTAL ILLNESS that severely impacts one’s ability to function in daily life, from work to relationships.
- Not only start to talk about suicide prevention, but CONTINUE the conversation long after watching season 1. Just because the show is over for now, doesn’t mean the conversation should stop.
- Communicate with others if you are struggling with mental illness. This could be a friend, family member, teacher, coach, anonymous online chat room for mental health, or even a professional in-person. Don’t be ashamed to get help. You wouldn’t be ashamed to go to a doctor for a physical illness; why should mental illness be any different?
- Participate in suicide prevention campaigns or do your reading on suicide prevention, if you are interested. Many social media campaigns are focused on mental illness, stigma and suicide prevention. Check them out! 🙂
Don’t let suicide prevention just be “trendy”. Let this be the start of a long-lasting movement to save lives.