Whether you’re young or old, we can all agree that teen suicide is an incredibly difficult topic to address – which is why we were thrilled to hear of 13 Reasons Why Not, a recent initiative led by a group of high school students at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan.
If that name isn’t ringing a bell, let us fill you in. 13 Reasons Why Not is a response to 13 Reasons Why, the controversial Netflix series that follows the story of a young protagonist via a series of cassette tapes that she leaves behind after committing suicide, outlining the reasons she chose to end her life and the classmates she blames for her death. While the Netflix show has drawn criticism for potentially validating and romanticizing suicide as a viable choice, 13 Reasons Why Not takes a decidedly different approach.
— Nightline (@Nightline) May 12, 2017
For the project, students worked with administrators to record deeply personal, honest stories of their own struggles with bullying, homophobia, depression and suicidal thoughts, thanking the people who helped them get through their darkest hours. The stories were then played over the school’s PA system during morning announcements, followed by a list of resources for suicide prevention.
Not surprisingly, response was powerful – and overwhelmingly positive.
— b (@heybrookeer) May 1, 2017
— dan (@dannsmitthh) May 1, 2017
— lexxx (@alexaalban) May 12, 2017
13 Reasons Why Not has also garnered tons of positive media coverage from major news outlets, and it’s easy to see why: by bravely sharing their personal struggles and shining a light on the people who helped them, the Oxford teens offer real hope to others struggling with suicidal thoughts – and a model to other high schools looking to offer better support to their students.