Frontier Health workers concerned about popular Netflix series


Netflix has now added and beefed up the viewer warning about episodes of a controversial series dramatizing teen suicide.

Locally, mental health workers hope the series will open up conversation about teen depression and self harm.

We discovered statistics that show more than 44,000 Americans die by suicide each year.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, it is the second leading cause of death for those 15 to 34 years old in Virginia.

It's the third leading cause of death for those 10 to 14.

In Tennessee, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those 10 to 14, and third for people 15 to 24 years old.

On average in both states, one person kills themselves every eight hours.

News 5's Jessica Griffith talked to people in our area about why they're watching the series and why mental health professions have concerns about it.

While local health professionals say there are major issues with the popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, we found out they think there is something positive, which is it's getting people talking about the issue of suicide

The show's premise...

"Hannah, the main character has left behind these 13 cassette tapes where she depicts all the reasons why she completed suicide and the blame she places on her peers," Cicely Alivs, with Frontier Health said. They're concerned the show glorifies suicide and blame. "It seems like that this is not only the solution to the problem but that somehow there is revenge after the person is gone and that they have succeed by its effect it has had on their peers," Alivs said.

"If you're a child who's maybe perhaps a bit more isolated, don't have the resources to think through. How will I handle this? We're concerned about the possibility of having a negative impact," Senior Vice President of Children Services Kathy Benedetto said. We wanted to find out how young people who watch the show feel about it.

"When I got into it, it was really addictive. In the beginning it was really good, but then towards the end it got really graphic and gruesome," college freshman Carlie Sharp said. "I had to look away. And you cry because it's sad."

Despite the negatives, both mental health workers find a positive aspect. "If you're an individual that has probably a lot of support, good problem solving skills, then perhaps you can watch it in a very positive way. In fact we are hearing from the kids that we see, a lot of kids are saying it's a very good show because it gets individuals talking," Benedetto said. And one positive message from the series, be kind to each other. "The show is important because it shows we should be uplifting with our peers and the people around us. We should be more encouraging because you don't know what they're going through, their story," Sharp said. The show is sending out messages on social media, tweeting a link to viewers, listing ways at risk youth can get help. "It's very relevant obviously. Because we're teenagers, we have problems just like everyone else does. But we also don't like to vocalize them as much. I think that's what our problem is in our generation is that we don't vocalize our problems," Sharp said. Frontier Health's Crisis line is available at anytime for people who are looking for help at 877-928-9062. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Some websites are

Frontier Health

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network

and Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

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