Dear Mayer Parents and Guardians,
As a staff we have recently come together to discuss the 13 Reasons Why Netflix show and novel. For those of you that may not know about this series, it depicts the fictional suicide of a teenaged girl and its effects on her peers. This show covers multiple issues that teens may be facing today: social media, peer acceptance, drug and alcohol abuse, rape and eventually suicide. This series has become popular among some of our students, and is thus raising some questions about suicide and mental health.
The producers claim this series will stimulate a dialogue among family members regarding teen drug abuse, bullying and suicide. However, many in the mental health and educational community are skeptical and concerned that it undermines the importance of help seeking behaviors, is dark and graphic in nature, and romanticizes suicide. It is also difficult for parents to engage their children in a dialogue if they are unaware of the series’ content. Many children are binge watching this free Netflix series. This does not give the opportunity for kids to discuss their feelings, process, consider the irreversible consequences, or reinforce the message that suicide is not a solution to a problem.
I am not writing to tell you whether or not to allow your child the opportunity to watch or read this book, rather to inform you on the importance of you understanding the content. I am urging ELII and MYP parents to ask your child if they are familiar with this book/series. If they have seen it or read it, you will want to hold a discussion with them. I have included a wonderful article from The National Association of School Psychologists. This article is a great resource on how to hold a conversation with your child, signs to look for in children suffering from suicidal ideation, as well as additional resources.
We have a protocol that we follow in school to ensure that children are safe. In any case of a child stating they may hurt him/herself, we will follow the protocol and contact the parent. We articulate to students that there are three things that you must always report to an adult, no matter what. Three reasons to talk to an adult are:
- If a child has shared they may hurt him/herself (directly or indirectly).
- If a child has expressed they may hurt another.
- If a child expresses that they are being hurt by another.
I hope that you find this information helpful. If you have any concerns at all please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher, school administration, school counselor, or school social worker.
Article from National Association for School Psychologists