By Mark Kanz
Educators, mental health professionals, and parents around the country are concerned about a new, controversial Netflix series called 13 Reasons Why. Season One of the series depicts a teenage girl who died by suicide and re-creates, through flashbacks, the 13 reasons for ending her life and what has been interpreted as glamorizing suicide and getting revenge. With summer vacation coming, it’s likely even more teens will become familiar with the series. Barb Johnson-Giese, Behavioral Health Coordinator at Door County Medical Center, suggests parents need to be in tune with their kids, and that the show creates such an opportunity.
Johnson-Giese encourages parents to watch the show with their children and discuss it together, including reasons not to use suicide as a way to cope. She strongly recommends parents ask their children if they have ever thought about suicide, and despite the myth, it will actually decrease the likelihood that they will attempt suicide. Johnson-Giese says talking about suicide and mental health issues lets children know you care and are willing to talk with them and get them help if needed. Many resources are available to assist people who are thinking about suicide. She mentions calling the Suicide/Mental Health Crisis Line at 920-746-2588 or texting “HOPELINE” to 741741 connecting you with trained crisis counselors, your company’s Employee Assistance Program or accessing information through the Community Resources tab on the Door County Library website as other places to turn for help. If it’s a crisis situation, calling 9-1-1 or going to the hospital emergency room are the best options to avoid a tragedy.