A Michigan teen has launched a “13 Reasons Why Not” initiative at her high school, which shares personal stories from students that address suicide.
The program was created to help students suffering from mental health issues after a 15-year-old student took her own life.
18-year-old Riley Juntti came up with the idea following concerns raised over the popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, which chronicles what led to a high school student to take her own life, which critics have argued glamorizes suicide.
“The show often made it seem as though suicide is the only option when you’re in a very, very dark place,” Juntti told WJRT. “I think it glorifies suicide, especially to such a young audience.”
Juntti, who considered suicide in the past and was involved in an abusive relationship, convinced other students to open up about their own battles with depression.
Those stories are now being shared by Juntti and six other students during the school’s morning announcements over 13 days to let students know that they’re not alone.
“Learning to find resources I think is the number-one thing, and also just surround yourself with a good supportive group of people that love you,” Juntti said.
WATCH: What parents should know about 13 Reasons Why
“They’re making a difference,” said Amy Hafeli, the mother of Megan Abbott, a student who committed suicide in 2013. “They’re these healthy conversations amongst their peers. If we could have had this four years ago, there is a good chance we could have had Megan here with us here today.”
“I think it’s a very brave thing,” student Tray Huntsman said. “I think it’s something for the kids that are able to share … it’s something that helps them out as far as what they’re going through emotionally — it just gives them strength. And I think for the kids that aren’t talking or speaking up, it gives them strength as well.”
Where to get help
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.
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