By Paul Gionfriddo, MHA president and CEO
On Wednesday, May 3rd, five Mental Health America staff people held an honest, hour-long Facebook live conversation about the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” about suicide, and about suicide prevention.
More than 7,500 people tuned in live, and despite some technical difficulties with the recording, within twenty-four hours more than 9,000 people had viewed the discussion. You can view the conversation here.
“13 Reasons Why” traces the two-year road toward a young woman’s suicide, told two weeks after the event from the perspective of a friend to whom she had mailed a set of recordings. He in turn traces the pathway that led to her tragic death, seeking answers from others who are named in her narrative.
The show has created both controversy and discussion, and has unearthed a range of emotions and perspectives regarding suicide. In the MHA discussion, this range is on display, with each of the individuals explaining how and why they reacted in different ways to the show. In more than 200 comments, viewers shared their perspectives as well.
In addition, the participants and viewers shared something else, too, during the conversation – thirteen resources that they believe offer a variety of kinds of help and support to people who are thinking about and/or want to talk about suicide prevention. Here are the links:
These are in no way exhaustive. For example, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention, and works in partnership with MHA. AFSP also has a broad array of services, supports, and resources to assist and support people.
But the important thing about these conversations is this. There are tools, resources, and sources of information, help, and support out there. They may not be simple to find during moments of crisis, but we need to share them with people as often as we can so that everyone knows where to access them whenever questions about suicide arise.
Suicide rates have been increasing in the United States. “13 Reasons Why” is in part a response to this. People will debate whether it will contribute to it. The only way to be certain that it – or any other depiction of suicide – won’t is through bringing this fight against suicide out into the open.
The media and others are asking what it is we can do about this epidemic of suicides we are experiencing.
What we can do is talk about our suicide prevention efforts and point them toward the resources we have amassed to prevent suicides, to identify mental health concerns and conditions before Stage 4, and to address the risks and causes of suicide as aggressively as we do the risks and causes of other ways we experience untimely deaths.
There’s always hope. I hope these resources will help – and let’s keep the conversation going.