Counselor brings awareness to suicide through ‘13 Reasons Why’

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By Marcus Hotaling Contributing Writer As many students are likely aware, Netflix recently released ‘13 Reasons Why’ to all subscribers. ‘13 Reasons Why’ is a Netflix original series based on the Jay Asher novel published in 2011 under the same name. The series tells the story of a high school student, Hannah, who dies by suicide after experiencing a series of negative events involving her classmates and friends. Before Hannah died, she made a series of tapes explaining what each of these individuals had done to hurt her. Each episode tells one part of the story focused on a painful event or interaction. The series offers a well-intentioned message about being kinder to others and seeking assistance when needed, but there are many who are saying the show glorifies suicide. People may often identify with the experiences characters have on television, however, it is important to remember that there are healthier ways of coping with the topics addressed in ‘13 Reasons Why,’ and acting on suicidal thoughts is not one of them. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The majority of people who experience bullying, adversity or loss do not die by suicide or seriously consider suicide as an option. Most reach out for help and support from peers, family, clergy, or mental health counselors. Acting on suicidal thoughts is not a heroic act, and ‘13 Reasons Why’ attempts to show the impact that suicide has on family, friends and peers. The unfortunate reality is, while an immediate impact is felt, over time, that impact fades, and those affected continue on with their lives. Research has shown that suicide has a direct impact on an average of 6 people, most often the individual’s family members. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24. A completed suicide is usually the result of multiple causes, and mental health concerns are often involved. Given this statistic, it is important to recognize the potential warning signs of suicide, such as: openly talking about wanting to die, giving away possessions, and saying goodbye. There are many treatment options available to assist with life’s challenges, distress and mental health concerns. Reaching out for help or offering support to those in need is the first step in reducing stigma around suicide and mental health. The Eppler-Wolff Counseling Center offers a variety of supportive resources for our students. Clinicians are available for free and confidential counseling, consultation, education, and outreach. To schedule an appointment with one of our clinicians, please call x6161. There is also a variety of resources available on the Counseling Center website (https://www.union.edu/offices/health-counseling/counseling). Students should feel free to contact the Counseling Center with concerns regarding themselves or their friends. There is also a national suicide hotline that can be reached 24/7 at 1-800- 273-TALK.

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