Dear AMS Families,
I am reaching out to you to share our concerns about the Netflix Series 13 Reasons Why. Many of our middle school students are watching it and talking about it. It is important for you to know that it depicts 13 tapes that a girl who committed suicide left behind sharing why she committed suicide, focusing on bullying, sexual assault, rape and drug/alcohol use. These as well as her suicide are depicted graphically.
There are strong concerns that this show glorifies and over-simplifies suicide. Research shows that the prominence of suicide publicity, including in social media, can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The show does not adequately show healthy attempts for the girl to seek help. Additionally, in reality, according to the CDC (2010), 75-90% of suicides occur in persons who have had a mental health disorder for at least a year. This show doesn't mention mental illness or depression.
Please keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to let your child watch this show. If you do choose to let your child which it, please use the opportunity to talk with them about suicide- providing the message that suicide is never an option. There are always other things to do to get help. You can help explore those other options with them including talking to a trusted adult in their lives, a school counselor, or even calling a suicide hotline (see resources below). You can also talk with them about what to do if a friend approaches them about considering suicide. The main message here is it is more important to get help even if it breaks a friends trust, when the alternative could be that they die. Additionally, talking with your children about the other mature topics raised such as sexual assault could help them to process what they are seeing, and help protect them from being victims of sexual assault. Talking with your children directly about depression and suicide does not increase their risk, but rather serves as a protective factor.
Please know that we also have resources at AMS to support your children. If you ever have any concerns about your children's mental health, please contact one of our school counselors: Kelly Britton firstname.lastname@example.org 558-3669), Brandon Mohan email@example.com 558-3670), or Morgan Koblick firstname.lastname@example.org 558-3669). If needed, they can work with you to refer your children to mental health resources at our school or with outside providers.
If you'd like to learn more, here is an article that provides more information about the show: http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators
Other Resources are:
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Warning Signs of Suicide: afsp.org
Talking Points for Educators & Families: nasponline.org
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns,
Deborah Brill, Principal
Albany Middle School
1259 Brighton Ave.
Albany, CA 94706