A need for mental health awareness

The Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” quickly became popular after its debut in 2017 with its focus on suicide. In the month after it began airing, suicide rates for boys increased.

Although people may be quick to criticize the show for romanticizing suicide, the problem does not lie in the show itself, but with the overall mental health issues among teens across the country. Based on a 2007 book written by Jay Asher, the show tells the story of a teenage girl, Hannah Baker, who takes her own life, leaving behind 13 messages for other students she holds responsible for her death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among boys between the ages of 10 and 17 rose by 28.9 percent in April 2017, a month after the show was first released.         

Although there is no evidence that the show inspired the increase in suicides, “13 Reasons Why” makes many viewers vulnerable to the idea of suicide. It portrays the false idea that the victim’s suicide is the only way to bring awareness to the victim’s problems.

However, instead of making changes to the show, steps should be taken to prevent suicide by increasing mental health awareness and advocating mental health resources in schools and at home.

According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that many teens who attempt or think about suicide have some type of mental health disorder, such as depression. Among all Americans, 20 to 25 percent are affected by this mental health disorder. Suicide attempts among teenagers are often connected to feelings of stress from academic pressure and self-doubt, according to studies.

From the perspective of a student who attends an academically competitive school, I often see teenagers who feel intimidated by an overwhelming amount of work from classes, which can create stress. It’s unfair that some decide not to live out the rest of their lives because of a mental health issue.

Kaiser Permanente recommends that the first step to helping people is by recognizing any noticeable signs. Many teens who do think about suicide often make openly suicidal statements. People often don’t take these statements seriously, but the statements should be taken into consideration as they can be an obvious cry for help.

Most teenagers with suicidal thoughts also want somebody to talk to, according to Kaiser Permanente. Listening to the teens and being understanding will make it easier to recognize their problems and create opportunities to offer a safe solution. Providing help can also make a significant difference in their lives and even save them from making the wrong decision. Help is also provided at the Wellness Center program in Diamond Bar High School for students that want to talk about their problems.

Although “13 Reasons Why” glorifies the idea of suicide, it is not at fault for the rising suicide rates because the show only reflected on what was happening and the suicide rates for teens had already been rising before the show. To combat mental health issues among teens, society should be more attentive to the tell-tale signs.