Talking with students about suicide prevention

Thursday, January 4, 2018

 #8 News Story of 2018

SRL Reacts: Students weigh in on Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' from Student Reporting Labs on Vimeo.

YouTube star Logan Paul's decision to post a video showing the body of an apparent suicide victim in Japan has raised critical issues about how media portrayals of suicide affect youth at risk of suicide or who are dealing with suicide in the community.

Directions: Read through the story summary and answer the discussion questions about suicide prevention below. If time permits, you may wish to watch the NewsHour Student Reporting Labs video of students reacting to the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.


  1. YouTube vlogger Logan Paul received widespread criticism for posting a video on New Year’s Eve that showed the body of an apparent suicide victim in Japan.
  2. Paul has 15 million Youtube subscribers, many of whom are young girls of elementary and middle-school age. He has since apologized for posting the video.
  3. Mental health experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have long stated that sensationalizing suicide can influence people considering suicide.
  4. Last year, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why caused a nationwide debate about whether the provocative series was an appropriate and safe way to discuss teen suicide. Take a look at the SRL video above which includes reactions to the show from teenagers across the country.
  5. After years in decline, the suicide rate in the United States began increasing once more in 1999. This NewsHour article outlines CDC research showing a spike in suicide for girls age 10-14 from 2001 to 2014. The suicide rate has also increased by 30 percent among young men during this time.
    • Despite rising rates, “We know that suicide is a preventable public health problem,” said Deb Stone, a behavioral scientist with the CDC.
    • Stone stressed that schools, workplaces and health care settings can play a role in suicide prevention through educating people about suicide risk factors and decreasing stigma.​
    • If time permits, read the archives from this NewsHour Twitter chat with mental health experts on the rise of suicide in teen girls.
    • If you hear about news stories over social media that upset you, please don’t keep it to yourself. Talk with an adult you trust, including a parent, teacher, school counselor or principal. If you or anyone is considering suicide or needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 where counselors are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Discussion questions

  1. Essential questionHow important is it for schools to talk about suicide with students?
  2. Why are mental health experts concerned about the media (i.e. Netflix, social media, YouTube, news outlets, etc.) sensationalizing suicide?
  3. YouTube has policies that prohibit showing certain graphic material. Why do you think these policies were created? What should happen if a person does not follow these policies?
  4. Given Logan Paul’s popularity with young people, do you think he has a responsibility to treat the subject of suicide with care? Explain your response.
  5. Media literacy: What is vlogging? What are positive and negative effects of vlogging?
  6. What should you do if you are worried about the mental health of yourself or a friend, including thoughts of suicide? Who are people you can talk with? Why is it important to talk with someone about your feelings?

Visit PBS NewsHour Extra for more education resources designed to help teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.  @NewsHourExtra