Downtown Mission Uses '13 Reasons Why' To Start Suicide Conversation

The recent popularity of a Netflix series has prompted the Downtown Mission to remind teens suicide should never be an option.

'13 Reasons Why' revolves around a teenage girl who takes her own life after a number of failures.

Mission Executive Director Ron Dunn says parents should take the opportunity to talk to their children about suicide.

He says it's a topic that's not always easy to bring up.

"We're happy that the show has sparked conversation, but we want to make sure that it goes in the right direction. So what we're hoping for is parents will talk to their teens and their early 20-somethings about the show, what people think of it, what the youth thinks of it and to explain that it's not reality either."

Dunn says it's important teens know help is always available.

"My message to them is reconsider. People are there to help them get through whatever it is that's troubling them and this, too, will pass. Just want to make sure that people understand that no one needs to suffer in silence. We're here, the Mission is here for them and for anybody in this community that needs a resource."

He says the Mission isn't passing judgement on the show.

"The pain that suicide causes families all across Ontario is extreme. We're not coming out against the movie. This isn't about '13 Reasons Why' is bad. Not at all. It's just to say let's make sure we follow up with our kids and make sure that they understand that it's just Hollywood."

The Downtown Mission offers a Distress Centre phone service seven days a week at 519-256-5000.

The centre fields about 2,500 calls each year.

A texting service was recently added as well and can be reached at 147147 or 741741.