On this page we’ll be posting links to articles and information that will help our visitors gain a broader perspective of issues important to us. We will look across the wide spectrum of suicide research, adolescent brain development, and the diagnosis and treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. For more links, please see our News Archive page.
TO OUR READERS: Last month we published a link to a New York Times op-ed piece that was critical of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s position on the role of guns in suicide (see below). In the interests of fairness we feel it is important to offer the AFSP’s own words on Firearms and Suicide Prevention.
As we begin 2018, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention embarks on the next phase of Project 2025, the first, large-scale initiative focused on reducing the suicide rate in the U.S. Suicide is a major public health issue with a 25 percent increase over the past two decades; suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death with the rate continuing to increase. As the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, AFSP has set an imperative to use new evidence-based approaches to save as many lives as possible through Project 2025.
Project 2025 identifies a set of critical areas, based on in-depth analysis, where the most lives can be saved in the shortest amount of time. In the critical area of suicide by firearm, we learned that educating firearms owners about suicide prevention has the potential to save more than 9,000 lives by 2025 if implemented nationwide.
We know the facts well:
•Half of all suicides in the U.S. are by firearm
•Suicide risk increases when lethal means are readily accessible
•Research shows that having a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide
To date, efforts to reduce suicide by gun have largely failed – with 23,000 lives lost each year – we must try a new approach. There is promising evidence that providing suicide prevention training for those who influence a specific community can reduce the suicide risk for that community. Research also tells us that by educating the firearms-owning community about suicide risk, safe storage and removing access to lethal means, including firearms, when someone is at risk, we can reduce suicide. In fact, this approach is called for in our country’s 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
This is why AFSP made a strategic decision to work with the firearms-owning community on suicide prevention education. By working with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, we are systematically disseminating suicide prevention education to thousands of gun retail stores, shooting ranges and gun owners nationwide. This education focuses on risk factors and warning signs, and actions that must be taken: temporary removal of firearms from the home during periods of risk, safe storage (locked and unloaded) at all times; and denying sale when appropriate.
Importantly, AFSP receives no funding from NSSF, firearms manufacturers or gun lobbying organizations, nor is AFSP providing funds to NSSF or similar groups. As an organization that welcomes all people with diverse views, we do not currently engage in any political action related to gun policy.
We are taking an unprecedented, large-scale step to reduce suicide by firearm and save as many lives as possible. In 2018, we look forward to working with additional partners to help extend the reach of this critical Project 2025 area.
The original post from last month:
The Gun Lobby Is Hindering Suicide Prevention
In August 2006, my father fatally shot himself with a gun he pilfered from a friend’s bedroom. I wanted to do something positive in my mourning, so I went on a suicide-prevention walk organized by a nonprofit organization called the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Santa Monica, Calif.
After conversations with the A.F.S.P. staff area director in Los Angeles about my passion for suicide prevention and gun control — issues she told me she cared about, too — I joined the group’s Greater Los Angeles Chapter board, which required me to donate or raise $1,000 a year. I also helped organize an “Out of the Darkness” walk in Pasadena, Calif.; the organization raises more than $22 million a year at such walks around the country.
Cassidy Joined for Hope raises suicide awareness
After her 16-year-old daughter, Cassidy, committed suicide in December 2015, Kim Hess teamed up with her daughter’s friends to find a way to ensure no other family in The Woodlands area fell victim to suicide.
“Cassidy was the last person in the world you would think would consider taking her own life,” Hess said. “It still doesn’t make sense. To this day, I don’t know what happened. No school, no community, no family is immune: Suicide doesn’t discriminate.”
Hess founded Cassidy Joined for Hope Inc. in May 2016 with the hope of giving children the tools and training they need to be advocates for suicide prevention. The organization was first established as a student-led club called CAVS Joined for Hope—named for the school mascot—at College Park High School where Cassidy attended.
“We decided to create a club at school that’s a safe place where kids can talk openly about things like this and shine a light on such a dark topic,” Hess said. “Our main thing is to just get people talking to break the silence and to remove the stigma from [talking about]suicide.”
Community Impact Newspaper, February 14, 2018
Suicide: the silent epidemic
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with a steady increase in the last 12 years.
“If cancer went up for 12 straight years, you’d hear about it,” Michael Nadorff said, psychology professor and director of Mississippi State University’s Sleep, Suicide and Aging Laboratory.
According to the National College Health Assessment, 2.4 percent of the student body at MSU attempts suicide every year.
“I think (silence) is fueling (suicide) in that people don’t understand how prevalent it is, and how big of a deal it is because it’s hidden,” Nadorff said.
Nardorff explained silence about suicide is dangerous to society because it increases the stigma.
Identifying Youth at Risk for Suicide: Toolkit from the National Institute of Mental Health can help
With suicide rates rising and an alarming number of teens and young adults at serious risk for suicide, many health professionals are not fully prepared to recognize a patient’s psychiatric difficulties. A team of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recently came up with the ASQ Toolkit, a simple four-question survey for health professionals to help identify and get help for at-risk youth.
NIMH’s Division of Intramural Research Programs created the free Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) Toolkit that can be used in various medical settings. According to the NIMH, the toolkit (available in many languages) is easy to use, making it effective in many settings including emergency departments (ED), outpatient clinics, primary care offices, and inpatient medical/surgical units.
Power Of Pets: Companion Animals A Major Source Of Support For People With Mental Health Problems
A new study shows that pets can provide valuable support and benefits to their humans, especially for those living with mental health problems.
Results show that perhaps it’s time to consider pets as a major source of support in the long-term management of mental health issues.
There are pros and cons to pet ownership but for many pet owners, the pros largely outweigh the cons. Researchers from the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool, and Southampton reviewed just exactly what kind of benefits companion animals can give, especially among pet owners who are dealing with long-term mental health problems.
Suicides increased 10% after Robin Williams’ death, study finds
Suicides rose nearly 10% higher than expected in the months following Robin Williams’ death in August 2014, according to a new Columbia University study. Such tragedies involving the method Williams used — suffocation — spiked 32% over that time, suggesting news coverage of the beloved actor’s death may have played a role.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, seems the first to examine how high-profile suicides affect Americans in the era of 24-hour news.
To Combat Teen Suicide, Georgia Officials Turn To Social Media
Georgia officials are turning to social media to try to combat teen suicide.
From 2015 to 2017, 144 kids and teens in Georgia committed suicide. This year, four children in the state have already committed suicide. The GBI is looking into a possible fifth case. Now, it’s released videos on YouTube to try to reach young people with the message, help is out there.
Princeton Mother On Daughter’s Suicide: ‘She Was My Everything’
It’s a topic many of us find tough to talk about: Suicide.
But a Minnesota mom is sharing her story in the hopes of helping others. Tira Aubrecht’s 15-year-old daughter, Mariah, died by suicide. She was a sophomore at Princeton High School.
And as WCCO’s Angela Davis shares, her life story is one Mariah’s mother hopes other parents can learn from.
“She is my mini-me and everybody who sees us is like ‘Oh my gosh, you guys look alike.’ Well she is my daughter,” Tira Aubrecht said.
Tira Aubrecht remembers a happy child with close friends, a girl who embraced being the oldest of five children. A teenager who dreamed of joining the Air Force so she could travel the world.
What’s left behind: Straight talk about teen suicide
Two moms. One terrible tie that binds. Unthinkable grief for both. They are good people. Parents, with real, personal stories of years of crippling heartache because their kids aren’t coming back.
Their stories stayed with me, long after the interviews were over. Because in their loss is such an important lesson for all parents, now more than ever. Kids are dying to an epidemic that doesn’t discriminate.From the suburb of Rocky River, to a Cleveland neighborhood on Kinsman.
Rocky River High School Senior Micah Lewins’ 18th birthday was just 5 days before his death.
“He was a football player. He was a wrestler. He was a good, well rounded kid,” Micah’s mom Jane Lewins tells us. We’re sitting in Jane’s Westlake office where throw pillows and everything positive feels like the comfiest of homes.
It’s where Jane counsels kids contemplating suicide or families surviving in spite of it.
She is unwillingly overqualified for the position.
Why Suicide Survivors Took The Stage At The 2018 Grammys
The Grammy Awards on Sunday evening were filled with moving performances and powerful messages. For many, the most impactful show of the evening came near the end of the night, when the rappers Logic and Khalid and singer Alessia Cara took to the stage to perform their song “1-800-273-8255.”
The song is named after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s hotline number and it’s a powerful anti-suicide anthem whose lyrics demonstrate a cry for help from someone who’s suffering — and the caring response this person will receive.
Grammys: Suicide Prevention Highlighted in Song Performed by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid
Logic raised awareness on the Grammys stage during his empowering performance of “1-800-273-8255” on Sunday night.
During the performance, the rapper, alongside Alessia Cara and Khalid, was joined by a group of suicide survivors donning T-shirts that displayed the hotline number and inspirational message that read, “You are not alone.” The song title is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
1 year after suicide, 8-year-old Gabe Taye’s story is far from over
The circumstances surrounding 8-year-old Gabe Taye’s suicide still haunt Angela Jones. “It was kind of sad, like, it was real sad,” Jones said.
Jones is the parent of two students at Carson School in West Price Hill. It’s the same school Gabe attended, and it’s been loudly criticized by parents who support Gabe’s mom, Cornelia Reynolds. WLWT investigator Todd Dykes spoke to Reynolds four days after her son took his life.
“My baby was being bullied at school,” Reynolds said. “And I just feel like nothing is being done, and if it happens to my child I’m sure there’s other children out here being bullied, and I don’t want them to take their lives.”
About four months after Dykes spoke to Reynolds, video surfaced that captured an incident in a bathroom at Carson School. The video shows Gabe falling to the floor — pushed down by another student, according to attorneys for his family. Gabe lay motionless for five minutes before help finally arrived.
While expressing sadness about Gabe’s death and vowing to more aggressively deal with bullying issues, Cincinnati school leaders say the 8-year-old fainted in the bathroom.
Black student commits suicide at DC boarding school
A Black student in a DC boarding school was discovered dead by her roommates of an apparent suicide. She was only 12.
According to Fox 5 of DC, police were called to the SEED School of Washington D.C. on Tuesday after the girl’s roommates found her unconscious at around 6:15 a.m. Paramedics could not revive her.
The school called parents to tell them to come pick up their children that morning.
It is not yet clear what the circumstances were around the suicide.
Mami Buxton pulled her son out of SEED after he endured two years of bullying and was even allegedly sexually assaulted by another student. She said that she was upset to see someone else’s child suffering too.
“It kind of touched me really deep because of the situation that has been happening with my son at this school,” Buxton said.
Tiny suicide prevention bill could save Iowa teenagers’ lives
A young person commits suicide in the United States at the rate of one per hour and four minutes. It’s the second leading cause of death for people age 15 to 24.
Four out of five teenagers who attempt suicide exhibit clear warning signs, according to the Justin Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention.
Those are just statistics to many people — but not to those who have known a teenager who has taken his or her own life.
Yet nothing in Iowa law requires that teachers and other educators be capable of recognizing these danger signals and getting appropriate help. That may change this year, as a result of legislation currently seeing bipartisan cooperation at the Iowa Statehouse.
Originally, Senate File 2004 called for Iowa teachers to take an hour of suicide awareness and prevention training annually as part of their license renewal. That idea has faced opposition in the past, because it adds training requirements without any money to pay for it, said Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton.
Classmates Charged With Cyberstalking 12-Year-Old Girl Before Her Suicide
Two 12-year-olds in Florida have been charged with cyberstalking in connection with the death of a middle-school student who police say hanged herself two weeks ago.
The circumstances around the death of 12-year-old Gabriella Green on Jan. 10 led to the arrests of the two Surfside Middle School students, Panama City Beach officials said in a news release Monday.
Police did not release the names of the two children who were arrested because they are minors.
Investigators were made aware of the potential cyberbullying against the girl while looking into the death, which led them to examine several cellphones and social media accounts, the news releases.
Attempted suicide in adolescence: A review and critique of the literature
Reviewed 17 studies (published 1969–1988) covering 3 major areas pertinent to attempted suicide in adolescence: characteristics of the attempt (lethality, intent, and precipitants); psychological factors associated with suicidal behavior; and follow-up course. Findings suggest that there was a significant degree of individual and family dysfunction among many adolescent suicide attempters.
A teenager’s perspective on how to tackle the problem of suicide
In a school with outstanding academic performance, other issues can linger beneath the surface. This is especially true for the Mason school district.
Over the past decade, Mason High School has seen thousands of students pass through its halls and enter the real world. In that same time frame, Mason has lost nine students to suicide. This represents an average of one suicide every year.
Mental illness is an epidemic among teenagers today, affecting an estimated 20 percent of all 13- to 20-year-olds. A study published in Pediatrics at the end of 2016 found a significant rise in teen depression over the last few years, but little to no increase in mental health treatment. This rings true at Mason.
Childhood bullying linked to suicide risk for teens
Adolescents who experienced severe bullying by their peers earlier in childhood may be more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than teens who weren’t routinely victimized by other kids, a Canadian study suggests.
Researchers examined data on 1,363 children who were surveyed about peer victimization and bullying from ages 6 to 13 and monitored for any mental health issues through age 15. Most participants experienced little or no victimization, but about 26 percent reported some bullying and almost 15 percent said they suffered severe, long-lasting victimization.
Compared to teens who experienced little or no bullying as kids, adolescents who suffered chronic tormenting by their peers were more than twice as likely to be depressed and more than three times more likely to be anxious or seriously consider suicide, the study found.
Officials address ‘suicide contagion’ after 6 deaths in northeast Ohio school district
Parents in a northeast Ohio town are being asked to watch their children closely after six students in the same district took their lives.
The Perry Local Schools District in Canton along with law enforcement and mental health experts expressed their concern on Friday.
Four high school students, one middle school student and a recent graduate all ended their lives within this school year.
Health experts are calling this a “suicide contagion.” It means exposure to suicide can increase suicidal behavior in others.
Book chronicles mother’s struggle with suicide of son
A local mom, struggling to deal with her son’s death, wrote a book about her search for answers.
She hopes her pledge to write her son’s name – on every beach – will help others. A sand-sketched tribute that salt water will soon wash away. But for Susan Auerbach the exercise brings a lasting calm as she reflects on her son Noah. “Just trying to connect with his memory,” she said.
In life, Noah Langholz loved the beach and surfing. He loved his family.
So when the outwardly confident college junior took his life by hanging, in his parents’ garage two days after running the Los Angeles Marathon in 2013, the unthinkable traumatic loss hit his mother like a tidal wave.
“You’re not only full of grief, you know, the worst nightmare a parent could ever have, you’re full of shock and your body is reacting to the shock,” said Auerbach. She chronicled her journey through the recovery process in a book, “I’ll Write Your Name on Every Beach.”
‘Suicide contagion’: 6 teens die in small Ohio school district
Community leaders are asking parents to talk to their children about suicide following the deaths of five current and one former students in a small Stark County district this school year.
The Perry Local School District on Friday announced the most recent student death and categorized all six deaths as suicides. School officials were joined at a news conference by representatives from law enforcement, township government, churches and the mental health sector to discuss what they know about the deaths and to express their commitment to preventing future suicides…
…The string of deaths, however, is being looked at as a “suicide contagion,” which is when exposure to suicide increases suicidal behavior. Carole Vesely, with the Crisis Intervention and Recovery Center, said being a teenager or going to the same school could be enough of a connection.
After young hat model’s suicide, dad invites bullies to funeral to see ‘devastation’
Australians loved her pretty little face. They knew her name.
She was the Akubra Hats girl, the face of the iconic outback hat company’s advertising campaign when she was younger. She became the symbol of Australia’s Outback.
Now she’s gone.
Amy Jayne Everett, known as Dolly, killed herself on Jan. 3 “to escape the evil in this world,” her father says.
By evil he means bullies.
She was 14.
A week later, YouTube condemns a Logan Paul vlog of a suicide victim’s body, says it’s looking at ‘further consequences’
A week ago, Logan Paul uploaded a video to his 15 million subscribers titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest . . .” The video’s thumbnail image — the still image that shows up on YouTube’s trending pages and search results as a preview for the video — showed a partially blurred body hanging from a tree in the background; in the foreground was the YouTube superstar’s worried face. Paul was wearing a funny green hat.
The video title, sadly, was not clickbait. The vlog contained extensive, close-up footage of an apparent suicide victim’s body. Paul’s vlog horrified many YouTubers, before the outrage spread from YouTube’s immediate community to the wider public — including the shocked parents of Paul’s huge, and very young, fan base. The video came down as the outrage became a national news story, and Paul apologized, and announced that he was going to step away from his daily vlogging schedule to take “time to reflect.”
iPhones pose suicide risk to teenagers, Apple investors warn
Two major Apple shareholders have taken the unusual step of warning the Cupertino company about the potential dangers of their most popular product.
In an open letter to Apple, published on Saturday, Barry Rosenstein and Anne Sheehan cited studies linking the use of iPhones and other devices to increased suicide rates among teens.
Writing on behalf of hedge fund Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)—who collectively own around $2 billion in Apple shares—the pair highlighted the need for more research into the impact of smartphone use among young people.
“More than 10 years after the iPhone’s release, it is a cliche to point out the ubiquity of Apple’s devices among children and teenagers, as well as the attendant growth in social media by this group,” the letter stated.
“What is less well known is that there is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences,” it continued.
Can Canada Use AI to Crack Suicide Trends?
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and in Canada, it is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 19. Globally, roughly 800,000 people die by suicide every year. Unfortunately, only 60 countries have up-to-date, quality data on suicide, and 28 have a reported national strategy for how to handle and prevent suicide.
Canada has recently taken a stand against suicide, and the government has hired an Ottawa-based company which specializes in both social media and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify online trends and find patterns of suicide-related behaviors.
The major goal of this project is to “define ‘suicide-related behavior’ on social media and use that classifier to conduct market research on the general population.
Hopelessness and the increasing suicide rate in America
… I thought about this story after a conversation I had with my oldest daughter, regarding the increase of suicide among young girls. She was troubled by the number of teenagers and young adults she encounters, who bear scars in their arms and wrists, evidence of their profound despair and hopelessness.
The conversation prompted me to do some research on the stats of suicide in America.
According to a report released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2015, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming the lives of almost 45,000 Americans every year. Furthermore, after a steady decline in the ’80s and ’90s, statistics now show that the suicide rate has increased steadily in the past several years, with one group standing out — girls between the ages of 10 and 14. Although they make a small portion of the total of suicides, the rate for this group has increased more than any other, tripling over 15 years from 0.5 to 1.7 per 100,000 people.
Long Before Video, Japanese Fought Suicide in the ‘Sea of Trees’
AOKIGAHARA FOREST, Japan — Long before the YouTube star Logan Paul brought renewed notoriety to this primeval forest at the foot of Mount Fuji by posting a video of a body hanging from a tree, local officials fought to reverse Aokigahara’s bleak reputation as one of Japan’s top suicide destinations.
The forest looms large in the national consciousness, emblematic of a persistent suicide problem in Japan, which has one of the highest suicide rates of developed countries despite improvements in recent years.
At Aokigahara, signs at the foot of walking paths promote a suicide hotline. “Life is a precious thing that your parents gave to you,” the signs read. Another offers a number for help with debt. Locals patrol the forest, talking to people who are alone or show signs of depression or suicidal plans.
Bullying drove SC boy to kill himself, mother says. State agents are investigating
State authorities are investigating the suicide of a 12-year-old Lexington County boy who, his mother said, killed himself after being bullied at school.
The boy’s mother said in a Facebook post Monday that her 12-year-old son killed himself “to ease his extreme pain from bullying at school.”
“My sweet sweet boy was suffering an unbearable pain in silence and I couldn’t help him because I didn’t know,” she wrote. “I couldn’t see.”
Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher ruled the boy’s Dec. 29 death a suicide. She said he left a note that helped investigators make that determination but declined to comment on further details about his death, including the potential role of bullying.
Before Suicide: A Parent’s Journey
A parent’s love is highly durable, and when a child suffers a mental illness that love bears a special responsibility that will last a lifetime. Stefanie Hoffman has this Perspective.
It’s funny how we only hear about suicide when it’s too late – after it’s been committed. For many, suicide is always accompanied by shock as well as sorrow. “Why would they do that?” I often hear. But I have a bit more insight.
For the past eight years, my daughter – who goes to school in another state – has struggled with a volatile depression associated with bipolar disorder that has led to several suicide attempts. And I’ve had a front row seat.
Suicide and social media in the suburbs: A cascade of hearts, a sense of loss
On Instagram and Snapchat, sadness melded with rumor and fear. Students reeled first from the suicide of a 16-year-old girl at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. Six days later, social media lit up again.
Another student was dead in the same suburb outside Washington.
For a second time, teenagers shared the loss by posting an emoji heart set against a stark black background on Snapchat. The first suicide drew a red heart. The second was green. Then, amid a wave of disbelief, some teens posted a heart in blue, suggesting a third death.
“It was pretty shocking,” said Anna Kessler, 14, a ninth-grader at Northwest High School in Germantown, Maryland, who recalled wondering how many colors of hearts would accumulate. “I thought, how long is this going to go on?”
The Logan Paul video should be a reckoning for YouTube
By the time Logan Paul arrived at Aokigahara forest, colloquially known as Japan’s “suicide forest,” the YouTube star had already confused Mount Fuji with the country Fiji. His over 15 million (mostly underage) subscribers like this sort of comedic aloofness—it serves to make Paul more relatable.
After hiking only a couple hundred yards into Aokigahara—where over 247 people attempted to take their own lives in 2010 alone, according to police statistics cited in The Japan Times—Paul encountered a suicide victim’s body hanging from a tree. Instead of turning the camera off, he continued filming, and later uploaded close-up shots of the corpse, with the person’s face blurred out.
“Did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?” Paul said to the camera. “This was supposed to be a fun vlog.” He went on to make several jokes about the victim, while wearing a large, fluffy green hat.
Deaths From Suicide: A Look at 18 States
A Special Report with Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, 2013-2014
Established in 1993, the Safe States Alliance is a national non-profit organization and professional association whose mission is to strengthen the practice of injury and violence prevention. Safe States is the only national non-profit or-ganization and professional association that represents the diverse and ever-expanding group of professionals who comprise the field of injury and violence prevention.
Safe States • www.safestates.org • February 2017
The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team – whose investigative work was the subject of the acclaimed 2015 film Spotlight – has produced a report on the current state of mental health care in Massachusetts, The Desperate and the Dead: Families in Fear. Closing psychiatric hospitals seemed humane, but the state failed to build a system to replace them, June 23, 2016.
Children’s Hospitals Admissions for Suicidal Thoughts or Actions Double During Past Decade – Report from the Pediatric Academic Societies.
Suicide Rates After Discharge From Psychiatric Facilities
IMPORTANCE: High rates of suicide after psychiatric hospitalization are reported in many studies, yet the magnitude of the increases and the factors underlying them remain unclear.
OBJECTIVES: To quantify the rates of suicide after discharge from psychiatric facilities and examine what moderates those rates.
JAMA Psychiatry, June 01, 2017
The World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention have released an updated version of their guide for media professionals, Preventing Suicide. It’s a 21 page resource for responsible reporting about suicide and includes a section on the scientific evidence of the impact media has on suicidal behavior.
Highly recommended reading for anyone who cares about this issue. If you come across insensitive or inappropriate reporting on suicide, consider sending this guide to the editors and reporters.
“13 Reasons Why” – Waiting for the Light,
Cursing the Bread
The Netflix adaptation of the young adult novel 13 Reasons Why has stirred up debate about how this topic is covered across media – especially in popular fiction.
Here on the Tommy Fuss News page we’ve covered this topic several times:
City teen’s suicide prevention video goes viral – 13 Reasons Why Not
– The Journal Gazette, June 3, 2017
Is Suicide Contagion Real?
– Psych Central, May 19, 2017
How To React When Your Friend Is Talking About Suicide
– Refinery29, May 5, 2017
Educators and school psychologists raise alarms about 13 Reasons Why
– The Washington Post, May 2, 2017
Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and the trouble with dramatising suicide
– The Guardian, April 26, 2017
How 13 Reasons Why gets suicide wrong: Voices
– USA Today, April 18, 2017
To these we’d like to add this publication from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Tips for Parents to talk with their Children about 13 Reasons Why and Suicide.
Critics have pointed out that the framing device – the central character Hannah sends 13 cassette tapes to friends and others detailing how they contributed to her decision to end her life – is not the typical course of the mental illness and stressors that result in suicide.
[May I be forgiven for suggesting that a contemporary teenager using a cassette tape recorder instead of a smartphone to make and distribute their post-suicide diatribes seems a wild anachronism. Akin to having Hannah send the info via telegram. The teens I know today would be hard pressed to identify a cassette tape much less use one.]
13 Reasons Why has been accused of romanticizing suicide, a claim that also could be made against the most famous teen suicides in all of literature: 15 year old Romeo Montague and 13 year old Juliet Capulet.
The arch of the 13 Reasons Why story also defines suicide as a means of revenge against those who Hannah felt betrayed and ostracized her. This, researchers and professionals tell us, is almost never the case in real life. Depression and anxiety are mental illnesses that, left untreated (or improperly treated), can result in suicide.
It is not the actions of others that is the primary cause of suicidal ideation. It is a self-generated condition. Externally many suicides can appear successful in all the ways we measure success.
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
– Edwin Arlington Robinson