A life is lost every other day, on average. in Hawaii because of suicide.
Now, a popular teen series on Netflix that centers on a high school student who kills herself has many in Hawaii talking about suicides.
“It was really an eye opener. Just the bullying that goes on through school, you don’t really know what is going on until something happens like that,” said Mililani junior Richie Garcia.
“It is pretty popular on TV,” said Mililani HS Senior Tylor McDaniel.
“It is all over Instagram and Facebook,” added Garcia.
The Mililani high schoolers are talking about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. A show that delves into the difficulties teens face, in sometimes graphic detail.
But teens aren’t the only ones watching.
“3rd grade students were talking about it this morning. Their teacher was very alarmed and I have to go speak to them,” said Kipapa Elementary School Counselor Dr. Silvia Koch.
The National Association of School Psychologists expressed concern about vulnerable youth watching the series, while Koch feels the shows focus on suicide is the wrong one.
“The end result is suicide and there are no solutions. That is not an option. It doesn’t offer any hope,” said Koch.
Hawaii consistently averages 177 suicides every year. 10 of those deaths are teenagers.
The Netflix series shows a teenager killing herself in graphic detail.
Because of that scene and others, Hawaii’ School Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi sent out a letter to parents stating:
“We have serious concerns about the graphic elements in the series that are inconsistent with messages that protect mental and emotional well-being, as well as content that is for mature audiences.”
Private schools have also sent out letters, alerting parents and offers talking points for discussions about the very sensitive topic of suicide.
Mililani parent Amberlee Kaai-Montgomery feels her Kipapa Elementary School children are too young for the show’s mature topic, but would let her older kids see it — under one condition.
“I would allow my children to watch it if I was in their company, just so I could answer their questions about what the series is all about,” said Kaai-Montgomery.
According to teens, the series shows the sometimes very harsh realities of high school life…
“It was pretty realistic because that is how people are with the bullying nowadays,” said Garcia.
The TV series has sparked more discussions about suicide, but Koch suggests parents do more than just talk to their teens.
“Parents love your child, give them a hug, tell them you love them every day. Appreciate them and listen…listen to them,” added Koch.
Experts state while teens may identify with and even emulate TV stars, having an open and honest discussion about emotional stress and suicide will not make someone more suicidal or put the idea in their head.
There are also many treatment options, professionals and people to help those in a crisis, most were not shown on the TV series, which is just one of the differences between the show 13 Reasons Why and real life.