The recent Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has created a firestorm in pop culture and around everyday dinner tables. As an avid Netflix watcher, you may have already tried watching episode 1. Or perhaps you've heard the buzz, read the articles on Facebook and chosen to abstain. Regardless of your Netflix watching status, the issues raised by the show have created a conversation for schools, mental health professionals, parents and teens themselves.
The premise of 13 Reasons Why
For those of us unfamiliar with the story, the series features teenager Hannah Baker who commits suicide. She leaves behind 13 cassette tapes for her peers and friends detailing the 13 reasons why she chose to commit suicide. The series jumps from flashbacks of Hannah's experiences of sexual assault, bullying and peer pressure to the time after her death as her classmates and parents try to make sense of her death.
Concerns with Hannah's Story
While the show has received critical acclaim, educators and mental health professions have raised concerns about the show's story line and portrayal of suicide. Among the concerns are the fact that the story glamorizes suicide, unrealistically portrays the causes of suicide (Hannah does not appear to suffer from a mental illness which is a leading cause of suicide) and the fears that watching the show may trigger vulnerable teens struggling with mental illness.
As a parent, you may have already received a letter from your children's school about the series and steps for talking with your kids about this issue. Since the release of the series, educators across the country report an increase in student self-harm. Recent statistics report that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among adolescents ages 15 to 24 and the 3rd leading cause of death among children 10 to 14.
How Should We Respond
Here at CREATE Church, we know you have questions, from whether you should watch this show with your kids to how we can start this conversation as a community. No matter what you think of the series, it's time for us to start an honest, real and open conversation about mental illness, suicide and where we can find hope.
13 Reasons Why There Is Hope
This summer, we're opening the conversation and all are invited. Whether you are part of the CREATE family or haven't been in church for years - we want to gather and start having real-life conversations about this important topic. We're not talking about sermons here - we're talking about sitting together, sharing our thoughts, hearing from those who have experienced mental illness and applying God's Word to this very important issue. Here's what we'll be covering...
Real Sharing About Mental Illness
Mental illness can become a stigma in our social circles. As a society, we have not always created safe places to express our challenges when it comes to mental health. In our time together, we've asked some people who struggle with mental illness and a mental health professional or two to share about their experience and help all of us understand our own journey when it comes to mental wellness.
Learning How to Have Conversations with Others
If 13 Reasons Why has done anything, it has made us aware that we need to start having open conversations around mental illness, bullying, and the other issues we face. Together, we'll learn how to start talking with each other including our kids, our co-workers, and our extended family members
For us, the story doesn't end at having a real conversation. We have a very real hope in the face of depression and bullying and facing life's challenges with the strength that God provides.
Each week, we'll have open up discussion as we look at how God's Word informs not only our thoughts on this very real topic, but our response in the face of mental illness in our lives and in the lives of those we care about. As we dive deeper into the fruit of the Spirit (found in Galatians 5) and what the Bible says, we'll develop strategies on how we can create a safe place for the people we love to share their struggles and find support for their journey ahead.
Join us as we take the next steps to live on mission on this very important topic.