Your teens or preteens may be watching a highly popular show about a teenager who died by suicide. They could even have seen real teens die by suicide livestreamed on Facebook. We all need to open our eyes, talk with our kids, and have suicide prevention resources close at hand. This may be especially important for adopted teens.
Your kids may be watching the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why.” Based on a book with the same title, and produced by Selena Gomez, it’s about a young woman who died by suicide and left 13 tapes behind to explain why she killed herself. It’s a popular show. It includes rape, bullying, grief, and graphic depiction of the dead girl cutting her arm open and dying alone in a bathtub. It’s about how her friends try to understand, and, I guess, try to do better, be kinder, in their lives now.
It’s possible to binge-watch all 13 episodes. And I would guess that most teens, and even pre-teens, could do exactly that without ever talking about it with their parents or any other caring adults.
It’s a lot to take in.
Are you aware of that suicide is the second leading cause of teenage deaths? You can read the CDC report here.
Are you aware that adoptees have been shown to be four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adopted teens? You can read the report by the American Academy of Pediatrics here.
Are you aware that at least two teens have live-streamed their suicides on Facebook? You can read a newspaper article about it here.
Please don’t stop reading this post, though I know it can feel overwhelming. The risk of suicide by teens is real, and horrifying. Adopted teens may well be more prone to considering, and carrying out, dying by suicide.
There are many resources available for prevention. I’ve written about them here: Resources Around Trauma and Suicide in Adoption. As parents and as people, we need to pay attention to subtle signals, keep communication lines open, and be willing to talk about suicide as we would sex and drugs.
Here’s another good resource: 10 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Teen Suicide.
Here’s an article from Ravishly: 6 Reasons Why Our Kids Shouldn’t Be Watching 13 Reasons Why.
Here’s an article from Rolling Stone: Does 13 Reasons Why Glamorize Teen Suicide?
And here’s the 24/7 number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Put it in your phone. I hope you never need it for yourself or for anyone else, and I hope you have it if you do.
Even kids from happy. loving families consider suicide. Even if your teen is doing fine, he or she may have friends who are struggling. Share information. Be aware of the impact of popular shows like 13 Reasons Why. Be aware of teens livestreaming their own deaths on Facebook.
Yes, it’s a lot to take in. Don’t look away.