Disclaimer: I have not yet seen “13 Reasons Why.”

But the flood of emails from schools and kids and appointments from anxious parents are ringing off the hook.  Why? Why?  There’s a lot of fear floating around — Teens are telling me that bullying hurts.

We know this.  Anxiety and depression hurt.  We know this.  But now we have the acceptance of suicide as an option in the popular media.  Others say it’s raising awareness.  What do you think?  I think that we were better off with the killer clowns.  Here’s what else we need:

  1. Stop lowering the bar: allow yourself to have expectations.  Many people lately have said to me, “Why should I bother, nothing ever works out for me anyway.”  This is the familiar cognitive distortion of black and white thinking.  Of course things work out for you.  Stop wallowing on the negative and pay more attention to the positive.  Sounds corny but as my father always said, “You can’t hit a home run if you don’t get up to bat.”
  2. Have hope and joy not just school work.  Take breaks and go outside.  School is important but not everyone is a rocket scientist.  It’s not worth killing yourself.  That’s for sure.
  3. Tell your parents to stop helicoptering and pressuring.  Back off parents.  Our world is so chaotic.  Let’s remember that we all need balance to succeed.
  4. Tell your teachers to stop putting all the tests on the same day.  Get it together, guys.  How can a tired teen take three tests in one day?!  It’s impossible.  So talk to each other and fix it.  Give them a fighting chance!
  5. Do something quietly fulfilling.  Something without screens.  Something to quiet your mind.  Some much needed down time to just walk your dog.
  6. Stop comparing yourself to others.  There will always be someone smarter and better and richer than you. There’s no use comparing.  You wouldn’t trade your problems for theirs in the end.  Accept yourself.  You are enough.
  7. Don’t have sex until you’re ready.  Really try to understand what you want and need, not what someone else wants and needs.  If doing something you are unprepared for is uncomfortable then you’re not ready!  Save yourself the trauma of being discarded by saying NO when possible.  It makes you stronger in the end.
  8. Peer pressure is overrated.  A kid on the bus told my client to say her crush.  She did and then became humiliated.  What a mess.  For the teen brain this was like public shaming.  Don’t give in to the pressure.  It’s none of your business, man!
  9. Look out for your friends.  If your friends suddenly withdraw, check in with them.  You might just save a life.
  10. Know that help is available.  The national teens suicide hotline is: 1-800-273-8255.  It’s free and available.  Threatening suicide should be taken seriously.  This isn’t a game.  It’s final.
  11. Treatment is available for depression and anxiety.  Learn the signs and symptoms.  There are plenty of websites and resources to help with these problems.
  12. Cutting is a complicated gesture.  You know you’re cutting for a reason; to numb the pain, to escape, to distract.  But it’s deadly serious and your parents may not understand.  Learn other coping methods.  Cutting is too dangerous.
  13. Let’s take better care of our teens.  As a society we have let you down.  We unleashed you online without a safety net, without the judgment to know who predators are, without a lifeline to safety, with people all around us desperate with guns, hopeless with competition and afraid of random acts of violence.  Let’s learn peace and tolerance.  It’s never too late.

As for 13 Reasons, The National Association of School Psychologists released a warning statement, reading in part:

“We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series. Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies.”

Read up on this and other triggers — maybe you can lead the way for a more tranquil world in your school or family or community.