This is not my usual inspirational post or humorous post. In fact I don’t really have a category to place it in from my normal categories. Today’s post is hopefully a wake up call regarding something in our culture. It may not be a popular post for views, but I don’t care about stats for this except if people read this, perhaps they will take it to heart.
Over the weekend I watched a TV show on Netflix that normally I wouldn’t watch, but a tragedy seven years ago was my motivation for watching the show. The show was 13 Reasons Why 2nd season. The tragedy seven years ago was a 19 year old girl I knew completed suicide. I was alarmed after watching the first season last year. I was EVEN MORE alarmed after watching the 2nd season. It is concerning to me that the release of the 2nd season was right at a time most kids are heading into summer break from school and will have less support.
There are experiences that never leave us, that get stuck in our memories. When I went to the funeral for the girl and saw how devastated her family and friends were, it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. She had graduated high school in May that year and completed suicide in September only a few weeks before she was supposed to start college. I called the high school the next morning to express my concern for her friends who I knew from my weekend groups at my church and who were still in the high school. The high school had not heard yet because she was not a student at the time. I was on the phone several times that day with different people at the high school. Some of the young people were upset with me for doing that, but they were okay and others watched out for them, so it was all worth it.
Out of that group of young people that I mentored and helped with English, 1 is in Medical School, 4 are in Pharmacy School, 1 got her MBA and CPA, 1 got her Masters in Architecture, 3 are in Nursing School, and the others graduated from university, all except the girl who took her own life. That still bothers me to this day. She had stopped coming to my weekend groups, so I had lost contact with her the last 1 1/2 years of her life.
Prior to completing suicide she had been listening to a song several times, “If I Die Young.” When I heard about it, I watched the video and was alarmed the video for the song showed a beautiful young woman laying in a boat on flowers and surrounded by flowers portraying a dead person while singing the song. I informed people I knew about the song and to please be watchful for young people infatuated with the song.
I am deeply concerned that a series like 13 Reasons Why is on Netflix. Netflix is great for binge watching seasons at a time which I have done with Spanish shows to practice listening to Spanish. My concern is that teens will binge watch the show 13RW because the story is centered around a teen girl completing suicide..
As a Christian, I am mindful of what the bible says about spiritual battles when it says our battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces. I think we can tend to think of the battle against darkness as being like the exorcist type movies when what it really comes in like are subtle forms. 13 Reasons Why is spiritually DARK. There is no other way to put it. The only reason I watched it is to know what young people I minister to might be watching.
After my friend completed suicide in September 2011, I went through suicide prevention training. The concern over contagion, other kids being emboldened to try it, is very real. Teens do not have a concrete concept of the forever aspect of death. If your teen or a teen you know binge watches that show, please check on them. Listen to them and talk with them not at them.
If you are thinking of suicide, or have had thoughts that there is no hope and want to end it, please call- 1-800-273-8255. You have value. There is hope.
Unfortunately we live in a day and age that being vigilant is a necessity if we want to protect the young people in our lives. If you would like to know more about suicide prevention, here is a link –suicide prevention training Since I went through the training, I have been able to intervene for two teens that were contemplating suicide and both are alive today and doing much better.
If you want to know more about the show 13RW and why it is dangerous for youth but do not have the time to watch it, a blog I follow did an excellent job in a post describing why it is concerning. Here is the link- beautybeyondbones
A final thought is that those of us who are follow Jesus are to be a light in the darkness. A practical way to be a light is to listen and talk with teens. Maybe a teen you know is doing well but perhaps concerned about a friend or classmate. Maybe a pre-teen has watched it. Even elementary teachers I interact with had concerns about the first season. Our youth today need to hear that there are loved, have value, and that we are on their side and that God loves them and cherishes them. There are so many voices pulling them in many directions and filling their spirits with darkness. Let’s love them, listen to them, and pray for them.