Controversial Netflix series '13 Reasons' prompts serious discussion on suicide in NH
CONCORD — With the release of shows like "13 Reasons Why," the topic of suicide and self harm has arisen now more than ever.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Centre Street hosted a community discussion June 6 between local residents and a group of panelists on the Netflix original series "13 Reasons Why" and how suicide is being addressed today.
"I want to talk about the issues our children are facing and those issues are shown in the show," said Pastor Jonathan Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran Church, who was the master of ceremonies of the event.
After its release on March 31, the Netflix series received mixed reactions on Twitter about how well the show addressed the serious topic.
THIS. "13 reasons why i dislike the show 13 reasons why"— sad scream queen (@queenoftherodeo) April 17, 2017
it really is an insult to people actually living with mental illnesses. it's a joke pic.twitter.com/x3BxqhLDSM
I think what @13ReasonsWhy is doing is noble and good. Suicide is serious. But here's the thing. It's real. It's not a game or a puzzle.— Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) April 8, 2017
it was hard to watch, and pulled a lot of buried emotions out, but wow i am so thankful for the show @13ReasonsWhy. important message.— Andrea Russett (@AndreaRussett) April 5, 2017
The panel consisted of Debbie Berman who started www.shemattered.com after her daughter took her own life just three days before her freshman year of high school nine years ago; Dr. Steve Cauble, a child psychiatrist at New Hampshire Hospital; Kate Weeks, a guidance counselor at Rundlett Middle School; and Peter Evans from Change Direction New Hampshire.
As a guidance counselor, Weeks noticed that there are students that are talking about suicide, depression, and suicidal thoughts that wouldn't have talked about it without watching the show.
All the panelists seemed to agree that while the show opened a healthy and important conversation about suicide, it failed to address specific issues.
"Here is this fictional story. It is overly dramatized and is an account of this child's suicide, which everyone is now talking about," said Berman about the show. "I think it is a good thing everyone is talking about it, but here in the town I lived in, we had an actual suicide, and we had actual bullying going on and real mental issues to talk about, and no one wanted to talk about it when it was staring them in the face and happened in their own school."
Evans and Cauble focused on how the Netflix series lacks in addressing the mental health issues specifically how it lacked in mentioning issues such as PTSD and Bipolar disorder.
"About 90 percent of people who take their own lives have a mental health condition whether or not it's treated," Evans said. He continued to say that without asking questions and making interventions, these issues can grow out of control and take more of an importance in our children's lives.
Toward the end of the discussion, an audience member brought up the title of the show, "13 Reasons Why," and how it alone "places blame" for the suicide.
Evans responded by flipping it around to continue focusing on communication. While many were upset with how the show didn't really react to how it was the main character's ultimate decision to commit suicide, Evans commented on how we can make our children resilient against the bullies or suicidal thoughts.
It is possible to identify mental illnesses. The following checklist was released during the event to help people identify themselves or their loved ones as suffering from a mental illness:
- Are you not feeling like yourself?
- Do you feel agitated?
- Are you feeling withdrawn?
- Do you have self care?
- Are you feeling helpless or lacking in hope?
As an audience member said during the discussion, "It is a strength, not a weakness to seek help."
Help is always there, if you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, depression or suicidal thoughts, the list below includes several resources available in the Granite State.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or Confidential Online-Chat online.rainn.org
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline provides 24/7, free and confidential support to sexual assault survivors and their loved ones.
Haven 24/7 Confidential Hotline 603-994-SAFE (7233)
- Haven is the local sexual assault/domestic violence agency for our region in NH. The Haven hotline will connect you with a local trained advocate who provides judgment-free emotional support and local referrals for anyone impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault. You DO NOT need to be in crisis to call.
Community Partners - www.communitypartnersnh.org 63-516-9300
- Community Partners provides comprehensive mental health and substance use services, psychiatric treatment, acute care, medication services, emergency intervention, and family support services for adults, children, adolescents and families in the Seacoast area.
NH1 apologizes for the audio issues during the live-stream of the event.