Cross Country Checkup

What do you think is the best approach to teen suicide...public talk or private concern?

One-in-five teens considered suicide last year, and many didn't speak a word. Is there anything more dispiriting than a young person who takes their life out of despair? A popular new TV series claims to shine a light on it. Is it helpful enlightenment or dangerous glamorization? What do you think is the best approach to teen suicide...public talk or private concern?
An Egadz Street Outreach program is taking a new approach to working with youths that habitually runaway. (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)
Listen to the full episode1:53:03

One-in-five teens considered suicide last year, and many didn't speak a word. Is there anything more dispiriting than a young person who takes their life out of despair? A popular new TV series claims to shine a light on it. Is it helpful enlightenment or dangerous glamorization?
What do you think is the best approach to teen suicide...public talk or private concern?
If you, or someone you know, needs help or someone to talk to call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868
Twitter: @KidsHelpPhone

A new Netflix TV show, "13 Reasons Why," has become a runaway hit in the past month. It's the story of a high school girl who takes her own life. Not only does it tackle a taboo topic - suicide - in a very graphic way, it gets into some troubling subject matter: cyberbullying, sexual harassment, date rape, and drug use.

Intense stuff that's being gobbled up by teenagers and provoking strong reactions. It's been tweeted about over eleven million times in it's first month of release. Schools across Canada have been sending letters home warning parents about the graphic nature of "13 Reasons Why." One Alberta middle-school banned students from mentioning the show on school grounds. The show is also controversial amongst mental health advocates. Some worry it glamourizes suicidal behaviour, others say it's a brave attempt to tackle a topic not talked about enough.

What do you think? Have you watched the show? Why or why not? Do you think it helps kick start a valuable conversation that could help students struggling with mental health issues? Or do you fear it might push students with issues over the edge?

It's important to remember suicide is rare. The suicide rate is about 10 per 100,000 people in Canada. But one-in-five Canadian teens say they considered suicide last year and half didn't speak a word to anyone. And rates of suicide are on the rise amongst teen girls and young women. Alarmingly high amongst Indigenous women.

Our question: What do you think is the best approach to teen suicide? Public talk or private concern?

Guests

Gord Davies  
Senior mental health worker at Coast Hamilton
Twitter: @stjoeshamilton 

Dr. Stanley Kutcher 
Professor of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University  
Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health 
Twitter: @StanKutcher

Sheila North-Wilson 
Grand Chief, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak
Twitter: @shenorthwilson

Need support? Here's a list of resources from across Canada

Kids Help Phone (Canada-wide)
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Helpline (Canada-wide)
Lynwood Charlton Centre (Hamilton, Ont.)
Ottawa Suicide Prevention 
Crisis Line Association of B.C. 
Newfoundland and Labrador Crisis Centre
Calgary ConnecTeen
Yukon Youth
Northwest Territories Help Line
Chimo Helpline Inc. (New Brunswick - bilingual)
Reason To Live (Manitoba)
Nova Scotia Health Authority
Nunavut Help Line
Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention
Quebec National Crisis Line
Mobile Crisis Services (Saskatchewan)

What we're reading

Statistics Canada: suicide

Suicide Statistics from CMHA

CBC.ca

Globe and Mail

National Post

Toronto Star

The Chronicle Herald

Variety

Global

Vanity Fair

The New Yorker

BBC