21 Apr 2017

Netflix show prompts parents to discuss suicide prevention

3:23 pm on 21 April 2017

Parents, teachers and social workers have met in Auckland to seek advice on how to deal with the topic of suicide following the release of controversial Netflix show 13 Reasons Why.

Katherine Langford plays Hannah Baker in the show's trailer.

Katherine Langford plays Hannah Baker in the show Photo: YouTube / Netflix

About 30 people gatherered at Glen Eden library in Auckland last night to hear about suicide prevention and talked about the impact of the series in which a teenage girl kills herself.

The event was organised by Live Talks, a group that meets once a month to discuss issues of the day.

Els Palemene, a social worker and mother, said she was not that informed on the subject.

"It's an area I don't know enough about. And when it comes up in our communities, I'm just as stumped as the rest of the community on how to deal with it."

She binge-watched 13 Reasons Why over two days, and said she was taken on a rollercoaster ride.

Help for parents, family and friends:

  • Common ground a website hub providing parents, family, whānau and friends with access to information, tools and support to help a young person who is struggling
  • Parent Help 0800 568 856
  • Family Services 211 Helpline - 0800 211 211 - Community based health and social support
  • Skylight - 0800 299 100 - for support through trauma, loss and grief; 9am-5pm weekdays
  • Supporting Families In Mental Illness - 0800 732 825 - For families and whānau supporting a loved one who has a mental illness

"I was angry, I was happy, I was sad - but it's opening this topic up for discussion and I guess that's the benefit of it. So I think it's timely."

The series, which went online three weeks ago worldwide, has [ divided opinion about whether it is appropriate] for young people.

Shay Twomey, also a social worker, helps teenagers and said the Netflix series had been discussed at length in her work place.

"The thing that we're worried about is that it doesn't really talk about this being a child that's suffering from mental health. And if kids don't have somewhere safe to talk about it that's what we're worried about."

Another mother, Helen Swanney-Lui, said she came along to the learn about suicide risk and how to talk to her children about such a sensitive subject.

"[There's] a lot of [societal] problems in this world and especially in Auckland."

She said she was very concerned about it.

"I've got heaps of siblings and nieces and nephews and it's a good idea for me to educate them."

An expert on Pacific suicide prevention, Jemaima Tiatia-Seath from Auckland University, was the guest speaker.

She said there several places people could go online for information these days - Depression.org.nz, The Low Down, and Sparx.

But she was worried younger children were missing out.

"There tends to be a big push for young people and adults and we tend to miss the children which I think is probably the best place to intervene.

"With lots of resilience-building and empowerment and education geared to children around languaging around depression, anxiety, feeling alone at a very young age. And I guess from there I guess it could build some momentum."

Where to get help:

  • Lifeline: 0800 543 354
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
  • Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
  • Sparx online e-therapy tool for young people
  • Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
  • Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
  • What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
  • Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
  • Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
  • Healthline: 0800 611 116
  • Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
  • OUTline 0800 688 5463 (OUTLINE) provides confidential telephone support on sexuality or gender identity

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.