We have had a number of adolescents, parents and clinicians discussing a movie and an application that are both closely tied to pre-teen and adolescent suicide. 13 Reasons Why is a series that is currently showing on Netflix that discusses a number of issues that teens may face, such as bullying, abuse and self injury. The series of 1-hour shows concludes with a very graphic suicide that has caused harsh reactions throughout the parenting, academic and treatment communities, as well as with adolescents themselves.
Here are some resources for parents, educators and clinicians looking for talking points about the movie or recommendations for viewing and discussing it. As with many sensitive topics with adolescents, a gentle curiosity around whether they have viewed it, their thoughts around the movie and some of its content can go a long way in encouraging open dialogue rather than shutting down an important conversation. Here are 13 things to consider about viewing and discussing the series as well as some great resources on bullying and abuse, suicide awareness, how to discuss suicide with adolescents and prevention/reporting and discussion points for educators. Dr. Michelle Scobey’s excellent letter and message is available below for download as well – it is a great resource for parents and providers.
There is also an extremely, potentially dangerous app called “The Blue Whale Challenge” which targets pre-teens to engage in a series of increasingly dangerous behaviors over a 50 day period, culminating with a ‘suicide challenge’. In addition to the dangerous behaviors that are encouraged, the app records personal and location information to scare users of the app into thinking they must complete the challenge or harm will come to those in their life. Because the app is targeting younger children, it can be very important to have open discussions with kids around avoiding the application and reporting any discussion of friends using the application or hashtag #bluewhalechallenge to a parent or counselor.