Dear Parents/Guardians of FHS Students,
The popular new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why is raising concerns for the well-being of adolescents. This drama, geared to teens, is about a 17-year-old girl who takes her own life and leaves behind audio recordings for 13 people who she says in some way were part of why she killed herself. Each tape recounts painful events in which one or more of the 13 individuals played a role.
Suicide prevention experts are concerned about the content of this show. While many youth are resilient and capable of differentiating between a TV drama and real life, engaging in thoughtful conversations about this show is vital. Parents/guardians can present an opportunity to help youth process the issues addressed, consider consequences for choices, and reinforce the message that suicide is not a solution to problems and that help is available. This is particularly important for adolescents who are isolated, struggling, or vulnerable to suggestive images and story lines.
The National Association of School Psychologists’ guidance for families is included below. Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns for your child.
Fruitland High School
The National Association of School Psychologists has created the following guidance for conversations with youth specific to the 13 Reasons Why series.
1. Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While we don’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 above, 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.
See Preventing Youth Suicide Brief Facts (also available in Spanish) and Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips or Parents and Educators for additional information.