Recently, Netflix aired the series 13 Reasons Why. It depicts the story of a high school community, and how their lives are shattered when one of the students, Hannah Baker, kills herself. The 13 reasons for her suicide are laid out on a series of tapes, which are sent to the people she holds responsible for her death.
The series has split critics down the middle, and mental health professionals have questioned Netflix’s decision to air the series, afraid it might lead to copycat instances and paint the wrong picture about suicide. However, where the series succeeds is in giving a wake-up call to parents, students, and educational professionals. The suicide rate amongst teenagers has risen considerably over the years, and it is our responsibility to understand why this is happening.
If you have the heart to help our young people and be there on the front line, an online masters school counseling course is one way forward.
The following are just some of the factors that can lead to the stresses of a student’s life. It is not meant to be exhaustive and is only a guide.
Bullying is not a new phenomenon. It happens in every school and can be physical through acts of violence, and emotional, such as purposefully excluding someone or spreading false rumors. With the rise of social media, cyberbullying has now become a serious problem, and once something is posted online about somebody, it is often difficult to remove it. For the bully, they cannot see the harm they are doing to their victim, and so acts of cruelty online are now commonplace.
Parents and school staff need to take the problem seriously. When somebody comes to you for help, don’t dismiss the problem, even if you think it is insignificant.
Many teenagers have an issue with their self-image. The media and peer pressure have given students an unfair expectation on how they should look. Being too fat or thin can lead to bullying from others, and parents and teachers can unwittingly cause a problem by advocating better body shape for sport and competitive activities.
Signs of eating disorders, such as anorexia, are skipping meal times, using laxatives and self-harming.
Our young people are bombarded with SAT tests and exams. Parents, teachers, and other students can cause extra pressure during these difficult times. Towards the end of high school, there is further stress when it comes time to choose what college to attend. Often, students are overwhelmed by the opinions of parents, peers, and teachers who push them into a direction they do not want to take.
Young people need acceptance, attention, and love. To fit into high school culture, some students feel forced to have sex before they are emotionally ready. Addictions such as drugs and alcohol are an increasing problem in our schools too, and students conform to the pressure to experiment. Relationships may be strained at home too with parents and siblings, and divorce can be an added source of anxiety.