PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teenagers.
Shelley Lepart Williams knows what it’s like to struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.
“I felt hopeless. I felt like I didn’t want to live,” Williams said.
But then she found a reason to.
“Many times, families are in isolation because of grief, the shame, the embarrassment, and you need support,” she said.
She vowed to become that support eight years ago after losing her nephew, 22-year-old Wally Matthew Patrick.
“He had struggled a long time with depression and he took his life,” she said.
She and her 16-year-old daughter, Trinity, now advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
“It’s something that should be talked about,” the younger Williams said.
For this duo, it’s an even more urgent conversation as the Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’ continues to rise in popularity.
“The show, it’s being talked about a lot,” the younger Williams said. “I feel the bad is really weighing over this show because you’re showing how she did it and now you’re giving kids ideas on how they can do it. If we watch it we need somebody there with us to talk about it and be like, how are you feeling after this.”
Now, educators nationwide are warning parents about the show, which follows the fictional story of a teen girl who takes her life.
“That has been a concern about this show that it might have a ‘copycat effect.’ Teens who see other teens doing things, particularly teens who have been contemplating it, might be pushed over the edge to do it,” Dr. Mary Morrison, Vice Chair for Research at Temple University’s School of Medicine, said.
In response to criticism, the streaming service recently announced new warnings about graphic content it will add on top of its existing Mature Audience rating.
But some say what’s most necessary is dialogue.
That’s why Williams started a social media campaign called #1300ReasonsWhyNot.
“I challenge you to give one reason why suicide is NOT an option,” Williams explains. “There are people who care so that’s something to always keep in mind.”
There are resources available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit the website of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org/mentalhealth.