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Information on Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”

Providing our students necessary and appropriate social and emotional support is a priority at ESM. We wanted to follow-up the letter we sent and provide further resources on the controversial series on Netflix entitled “13 Reasons Why” that is trending amongst our students.

The show, which is based on a 2007 young adult fiction novel, has across the country become a topic of conversation and spurred concerns amongst parents, educators and mental health professionals. While the show is intended to be a cautionary tale about a high school student who leaves behind 13 audio recordings detailing why she took her own life, there is a concern that young people and teenagers could interpret the message as suicide is a viable or romanticized option.

The show’s content is extremely graphic, addressing topics such as suicide, bullying, rape and drunk driving, as well as the consequences of witnessing assaults and bullying and not taking action, all of which could be challenging for youth to watch and process.

We encourage parents to research the series to understand what your children may be exposed to – whether by watching the Netflix series, reading the book or talking about either with peers – and talk with your children to determine whether they have read the book or viewed the series.

Doing so presents an opportunity to help them process the issues addressed, consider the consequences of certain choices and reinforce the message that suicide is not a solution to problems and that help is available, according to the National Association of School Psychologists.

Should you feel the need for more information or additional school support for your child, please contact the school to speak with a school counselor at 315-434-3306.

Guidance for families from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), www.nasponline.org

1. Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While the NASP doesn’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.

2. If they exhibit any of the warning signs below, don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.

3. Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.

4. Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.

5. Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.

Suicide risk warning signs. Always take warning signs seriously. Common signs include:

  • Suicide threats, both direct (“I am going to kill myself.” “I need life to stop.”) and indirect (“I need it to stop.” “I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up.”). Threats can be verbal or written, and they are often found in online postings.
  • Giving away prized possessions.
  • Preoccupation with death in conversation, writing, drawing, and social media.
  • Changes in behavior, appearance/hygiene, thoughts, and/or feelings. This can include someone who is typically sad who suddenly becomes extremely happy.
  • Emotional distress.

Resources:

Helpful points to further understand how 13 Reasons Why dramatizes situations and the realities of suicide.

Preventing Youth Suicide: Brief Facts

Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips or Parents and Educators



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