There has been much discussion and public outrage, particularly from the mental health community surrounding the Netflix series '13 Reasons Why', which aired recently. Some suggesting that "if there was ever a list of ways not to portray suicide this would tick every box"
And while this barrage continues the only silver lining is that at least it's got people talking.
One post that really struck a cord with me and I feel encompassed the concerns we have, of how easily young peoples lives can be impacted by the media and television shows that don't quite get the message right, was this letter from Claire Orange to her four boys. Which relays the heartfelt worry that we all feel whilst trying to safeguard the children in our care. Speaking to the '13 reasons why not suicide.'
"My young men. My crew of human beings that fill my days with emotions so deep I have no words to describe my love for each of you. Individually and collectively – you are my reason for rising and always my reason for being comatose by 11 pm.
From the moment of knowing that you were a life being grown and nurtured within I have felt this deep need to be there, provide for you and keep the world away for as long as possible. For each of you, as you grew and engaged with the world beyond my arms I held my breath each time you fell over, you were pushed or if someone stole your favourite sandpit toy.
Your skills have grown – walking, talking, riding a bike, driving a car and I have been there for each of those moments, anxiously looking for dangers, helping you to develop your skills and your resilience. Deepening your capacity to deal with the physical, social and emotional knocks of life.
And now the world impacts on you through your viewing, your interactions, your education, our family and extended family – some of which I can be there for and continue to hold up my invisible shield, to take some of the impact. Some, I can’t and the older you get the more I have to let go and let you experience life’s events and absorb life’s learning.
Do I think about and worry if one of you is having a tough time socially, academically,
emotionally every day? Yes! Do I worry about times when you seem overly down, anxious and disconnected? Absolutely yes! Have I ever wondered about whether you have had, entertained or lingered on some suicidal thoughts? I really wish I could say no, but to be honest, yes I have. Actually, yes I do. Give me a second and I'll tell you why.
And now we have this series - 13 Reasons Why, influencing and impacting your thinking. Playing teen dress-up with suicide. Wrapping it in the rich colours of teen angst. Hiding it’s ugliness in the common colours of teen sport, friendship ups and downs, betrayals and hurts. Somehow, I feel like the ultimate ugliness, the clanging finality is hidden behind this facade of fitting it perfectly into the usual difficulties that define that transition between your childhood years and your adulthood.
My boys, I know the scar that suicide leaves. Not just until the funeral is over. The faces of the family aghast, ashamed, unsure, bereft, devastated. Not just until you have children of your own. No, that scar lasts forever and when something brushes against it, it causes unimaginable emotional pain and hurt. You see, a friend of mine took his life when we had just left high school and it still impacts my life. I didn’t choose to see life through that lens. The lens of fear, of having not been there, of being a possible contributor simply through not being there at the right time to say the magic and lifesaving words.
I simply can’t imagine life without each and every one of you. Having to endure a lifetime of self-blame and self-hatred that would blacken my soul and create a void that could never be filled, lightened or lessened. That’s what suicide leaves.
These are my 13 reasons why suicide is not the answer:
1. There is always someone there. Always. And if not me - because today I’m not your favourite person, then a grandparent, an aunty, a cousin, a brother, a friend.
2. Despite what’s happened to you or what you have been part of by choice or proximity, I will always love you as much as the moment I first knew you were there. I might not love what you’ve done but I will always love you with my entire being.
3. YOU are here for a reason. You have a life ahead full of love, relationships, achievements and setbacks. And I will be there beside you.
4. However busy I am, whatever else is happening for me, I will put it aside for you. Hell, I’d lay down my life for yours to sustain.
5. You are loved.
6. You are valued.
7. You are resilient.
8. You are more than the sum of your experiences, more than anything anyone can and will ever say about you.
9. This too shall pass. Life is a series of stages, each with its own unique teachings and learning.
10. Nothing is too big, to embarrassing, too... anything to talk about. I'm honoured when you give it to me to hold but remember your safety net. They love you too.
11. Every life - yours, mine has high and low points. Storm clouds gather, they might linger but they won't be there forever. Promise.
12. You come from a long line of resilient survivors. It's in your blood.
13. My love for you is more powerful than anything you've seen on a superhero movie. My love transcends time. It will be there for generations to come, wrapping itself around you and your children one day, and their children, and theirs...
My sons, 13 Reason Why should be called 13 Reasons Why Not. As viewed material, it now forms part of the complex neural network through which you interpret and respond to life. Let’s keep talking, learning from it and making it part of your lifelong love of, lust for and link to life.
My Sons. My life. My breath."
Published with thanks to Claire
Claire Orange is passionate about families, their systems and the impact on the children within those systems. Combined with her background as a Speech Pathologist with her more recent qualifications as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner in addition to Family Systems Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), she has co founded with Helen Davidson the BEST Programs 4 Kids which has ‘grown wings and is flying’ with new offices opening in the U.K. To hear more about her work or to get in touch please contact via her website or through