The recent NETFLIX TV series 13 REASONS WHY is causing quite a stir. The naysayers and fear mongers in our midst, caution us about the potential negative outcomes of watching this series.

Rather than exploring the series for themselves, people are drawing conclusions based on the reviews of others, and thus far the reviews are anything but positive. They are scattered with cautionary notes, filtered through the biases of the lens through which they peer, and rarely offer constructive insight on the series.

I am not suggesting that agencies involved in caring for the mental wellbeing of our youth are incorrect in voicing their cautionary notes. However, I do believe that a balance needs to be brought to the discussion in order to gain greater perspective on what has been labelled a provocative and confronting series on a topic most of us would rather sidestep.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees!

I believe what we are seeing is that people are missing the forest for the trees! They are seeing the images, characters, visual and audio stimuli (these are the trees), but are not hearing WHAT is being conveyed (this is the forest) by the characters, images, visual and audio stimuli.

As an educator and trainer in Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention Care, and holding a doctorate in suicide studies, I sense a certain responsibility to view the series for myself, rather than provide a kneejerk response, as most people I am encountering are by acting on the hearsay of others.

As a person with lived experience having lost my daughter Jade, and her son in 2010, in what was a catastrophic murder-suicide as a consequence of postnatal depression, which escalated into postnatal-psychosis, provides further impetus to commenting in a more balanced way.

Much happened behind the scene that the news reports commenting on the event were not privy to, resulting in her death being portrayed as a bitter custody battle. The lack of filtering information to the media was an intentional decision by me, one I have at times regretted, as the scope of the complexity that was her life, remains hidden. However, as I respond over the coming weeks to the series, much of her life will become  known as the character Hannah and her life is unpacked from a more panoramic perspective.

Acting Responsibly?

The most powerful medium to reach communities of people is media, and if media does not act responsibly then we all become at risk – this is especially true for the more vulnerable within our community. So the question is – have the creators of this series (based on a book) acted responsibly in what they have portrayed in this series on suicide?

Over the next few weeks I will be uploading regular segments responding to this NETFLIX series. The instalments will be available in links unfolding under this tab.

Please join me, and share these with others as I unpack this provocative series, and offer a fresh perspective that may indeed contribute to saving lives and relationships.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees!