Psychiatrists worry that Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why is glamorizing suicide. (Netflix)

BC Children’s warns of glamorizing self-harm on World Suicide Prevention Day

Psychiatrist warns against over-stressing kids going back to school

As kids head back to class, staff at BC Children’s Hospital want parents to be careful about the stress being put on teens.

Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and according to child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Tyler Black, this time of year can make teens extra anxious.

“This day falls around the first day of school… and we actually see an influx of children in psychiatric crisis around the start of school,” said Black.

“Kids need to be well prepared to handle this stress and we need to be checking in on them to see how they’re doing with what we’re giving them.”

READ MORE: Are your kids anxious about going back to school?

READ MORE: How to talk to your kids about Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why

READ MORE: Kids Help Phone to launch 24/7 online chat for B.C. youth

Black worries about the glamorization of suicide in the media, including the hit Netflix show 13 Reasons Why.

“The first season I consider to be one of the worst examples of media not respecting the guidelines on suicide contagion reduction,” said Black.

“I have personally talked to children who presented to hospital entirely because of the distress of 13 Reasons Why.”

Suicide contagion refers to an increase in suicides after one is publicized or glamorized in popular media.

With school counsellors being one of the first resources kids have when they feel upset or depressed, Black is concerned that the show will make teens wary of reaching out.

“We’d really prefer if the trope of the unhelpful therapist was not such a prevalent thing as a plot device,” said Black. “People believe what they see on TV. I’d like to see help being portrayed as actually being helpful.”

The suicide scene of main character Hannah Baker was particularly harmful as it could inspire “copycat” deaths.

“We really worry about graphic portrayal… anytime media has portrayed a graphic suicide method, there have been imitative attempts after that,” Black said.

“The story of 13 Reasons Why could have been just as compelling without that graphic scene.”

VIDEO: From tragedy to greater support, first responders team up for mental health

It’s not that suicide should be hidden or never discussed, he said, but that it needs to be done in a “nuanced” way, particularly in media aimed at teens.

“Our message is trying to make sure that there aren’t unfiltered descriptions of suicide out there,” he said.

“Details about the death aren’t necessary, not over-glamorizing the person who died but maybe focusing a little bit on the impact on family and the help that’s available.”

Netflix has released a discussion guide on its series.

If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Life complicated when water not secure

Water issues have real-life impacts in Sooke Region

Langford sets sights on cultural development

Museum, conference centre and performing arts theatre proposed for McCallum Road property

Two Scout leaders found near Sooke

The pair went missing Sunday afternoon

Don’t chase away armed suspects: West Shore RCMP

Police say teen broke into garage on Jenkins Avenue around 2 a.m.

UPDATE: Two killed in fiery collision on Highway 1 near Revelstoke

The Trans Canada Highway was closed for four hours

Father, two children killed after car goes over embankment on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

Comox Valley cat rescue organization hit by camera theft

“Someone is taking from an organization trying to help cats who are surviving in the wild.”

Trout ‘doing quite well’ at Kootenay hatchery after otters, who ate 150 fish, relocated

River otters had been pillaging a moat outside the facility for months, gobbling up about 150 trout

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

Trudeau revisits blackface embarrassment during Black History Month

Photos and a video of Trudeau wearing makeup to darken his skin surfaced during last fall’s election campaign

Most Read