As Netflix gears up to premier its second season of the Selena Gomez produced show “13 Reasons Why,” school districts and mental health professionals across the country have issued warnings to parents of the show’s weighty topics and triggers. While some mental health professionals have recommend that parents prevent their children from watching the show, others have encouraged parents to watch the show with their children in order to promote discussions around bullying, rape, and suicide.
While the show’s new season works to stir up new discussions around mental health, it also comes on the heels of reports of how bullying and suicide severely affect women of color.
Last year, news outlets across the country heavily reported on the death of 13-year-old Rosalie Avila, a teen from California who died by suicide.
After enduring years of bullying, the young teen was driven to her death, hanging herself on November 28 and dying on Dec. 4 in a hospital when she was taken off of life support. Three days before, doctors declared Rosalie brain dead. In the days that followed, her parents spoke up about their struggle to find help for their daughter. Her story, quickly drew comparisons to “13 Reasons Why.” Similar to the main character in the series who also dies by suicide, Rosalie left behind a journal that detailed the bullying she had endured from her peers. Her death also regenerated conversations around the astounding rates at which Latina youth die by suicide in the United States.
In 2015, studies found that Latina teens have the highest rate of suicide attempts in the country.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 youth high-risk behavior survey, 15 percent of the country’s Latina adolescents have attempted suicide at some point in their lives. The study also found that almost 26 percent of Latina teens have considered suicide. The attempts and ideations peak around the age of 14 to 15 for Latinas around the same time that, as Univision points out, coincides closely with a stage in which teens are eager to clinch onto their own independence. “Many of the teens who suffer from depression were born in the U.S. but have immigrant parents who come from cultures where there’s no awareness of or vocabulary around mental illness, Univision explained in a 2016 writeup on the suicide epidemic impacting Latina youth. “Many teens begin to suffer when they reach adolescence, precisely when they’re yearning for independence.”
Awareness will be a key factor in ensuring Latina teens stay on track.
Adolescent Latinas often face various obstacles when it comes to seeking help for their mental health. Besides the stigma around mental illness, some who do not speak English might be unaware of the resources available to them and some who are undocumented wrongly believe that their status could be an issue. Still, there are plenty of resources geared specifically for Latina youth struggling with mental illness, depression, and suicidal ideation.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255. The hotline allows you to speak with someone in either English or Spanish who can help you find local help and treatment.