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In this Podcast episode, Josh Ochs talks with a very special guest, a mother who shares an important story about suicide and '13 Reasons Why.' Learn what parents need to know about this popular Netflix series, how they can talk to their kids about suicide, and how the show is affecting students and their families.
We're thankful to have you with us to share your story. The reason we're sharing your story is because it related to the series '13 Reasons Why'
My eldest son Joshua was 15 when he took his life, 3 weeks before his 16th birthday. After my son took his life, I went through his Netflix account and noticed he had been watching '13 Reasons Why.' He didn't finished the series but he had been watching it.
What were some of the warning signs? At the time I didn't think there were any warning sings. I just thought he was a normal teenage boy who played video games and wanted to hang out in his room all of the time on the computer -- but it wasn't normal. He isolated himself a lot, he was socially awkward, and he was definitely bullied at school.
I would let him play violent video games; he played Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty: Black Ops. I would go into his room and watch him play and laugh at things that happened in the game because I was just so naive. I had no idea it was effecting him.
A lot of people think there will be warning signs that their student is being bullied, has depression, or is about to make a very big decision in their life. But there might not be any warning signs.
What's the one question parents can ask their children?
I think the most important thing parents can do is to just come right out and ask their child, "have you considered committing suicide? Have you considered hurting yourself? Have you considered killing yourself?" That doesn't plant the idea in their mind like a lot of people might believe. A lot of mental health professionals say it's important to just get that word out: suicide.
How can parents have a dialog with their children?
It's important to know who their friends are. Also, it's important to integrate them into your life and not just let them do whatever they want. Be aware of what is going on with their friends and who they're hanging out with. Who your children are spending time with usually are who they will be like.
Should parents let their kids watch '13 Reasons Why'?
I think it depends on the child. If the child has tendencies for example, they cut, have depression, anxiety, or if they're loners and don't have a lot of friends I would advise they don't watch it. If a teenager does watch it, I think it's really important that a parent be present so that they can have an open and honest discussion during the show. It is very very graphic.
It's very important for parents to talk with their kids about suicide. Parents should know what their children are doing online and know what apps they're using. If your child is being bullied, they might be a little quieter or act a little different. Know the password to their phone. If your student is under the age of 18 and you bought their device, you have every right to be on their phone. It's for your family's benefit and their safety.
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