The Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" sparked conversations worldwide about mental health and suicide when it premiered in March 2017. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shared talking points developed by Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and the Jed Foundation (JED) to help parents, teachers and other gatekeepers talk with youth about suicide, especially as it relates to the story that unfolds in the series.
About the Series:
“13 Reasons Why” follows Hannah Baker, a high school student who takes her own life and shares what she sees as the 13 “reasons” that led to her decision. Her reasons are described through a box of cassette tapes she leaves behind for the people she says contributed to her death. A massive hit for Netflix, organizations can use the series’ momentum to achieve strategic aims relevant to their communication goals.
- Speak truth to power: Bullying, sexual assault, depression and thoughts of suicide are issues that people of all ages grapple with, especially adolescents. By bringing these issues to the screen, “13 Reasons Why” opened the door for a conversation among schools and families. Organizations can use stories on TV or in film that echo the story told by data and research to bring another dimension to their work and make it more accessible to broader audiences.
- Spotlight a problem: Look for a TV series, episode or film that shines a light on your issue. Identify how it can help you drive positive change and use it to build awareness about your work.
- Increase empathy with stories: Bullying, depression and backstabbing friends are just a few of the issues high school teens deal with today, so many “13 Reasons Why” viewers felt a connection to the series based on their personal experience. When viewers can relate to a character, they’re much more likely to see themselves in that character’s shoes.
What They Did:
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. SAVE was one of the nation’s first organizations devoted to the prevention of suicide. JED’s mission is to protect emotional health and prevent suicide among America’s teens and young adults.
These organizations noticed that the series created a lot of concern for people in the mental health community, so they partnered to help parents, teachers and others talk with youth about suicide.
“13 Reasons Why” garnered enormous buzz, including generating 11 million tweets in the month following its March debut. Prior to this series, teen suicide was largely a taboo topic. The series helped generate a global conversation about mental health awareness. In addition, thanks to the work of organizations like NAMI, SAVE and JED, young people experiencing suicidal feelings now know there are safe spaces they can turn to. For more resources about getting help for a loved one who is in a mental health crisis, or suicide and suicide prevention resources, please contact .
If you’re interested in implementing an activism campaign at your organization, we’re here to help. Thanks to our generous donors, AndACTION can assist philanthropic, nonprofit and other social good organizations in arranging Twitter chats, film screenings, pop culture pivots and many other meaningful activities to spark change. Our services are free of charge. For more information and support, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.