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Salt Lake City School District sends letter to parents regarding the Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’

Posted at 4:52 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-29 18:52:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City School District has sent home a letter to parents and families regarding the dark teen drama on Netflix, “13 Reasons Why.”

“13 Reasons Why” is based on the young adult book of the same name by Jay Asher about a teen girl who leaves behind 13 audio recordings on cassette tapes after killing herself.

The show’s treatment of teen suicide has been under scrutiny since its start but made headlines once again earlier this month when one study linked the show to a spike in suicide deaths among boys ages 10 to 17.

The study’s findings led Netflix to remove a graphic suicide scene from the first season, two years after it was initially released.

Season 3 was released on August 23 and Netflix has announced it will end after Season 4.

The letter from the school district “highly discourages” students from watching the series.

If students have already watched the series or plan to, the letter stressed having open conversations with them about the series and its content.

The letter suggested five things to talk about with young people regarding the series.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Dear SLCSD parents and families,

Schools can play an important role in preventing youth suicide, and being aware of potential risk factors in students’ lives is vital to this responsibility. With this in mind, we want to inform you that season three of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” was released Friday, August 23, 2019. The show is based on a young adult novel in which a young teenager takes her life. However, due to concerns expressed by organizations like the National Association of School Psychologists and the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, along with the TV-MA rating, we highly discourage students from watching this series.

Many national psychological organizations are concerned that vulnerable youth may watch this series without understanding the show’s content. Please be aware of this Netflix series. It is critical to have thoughtful, open conversations with your child if you have concerns for their emotional well-being. Below are some tips to assist in those conversations.

  1. Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why.
  2. 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 for suicide. 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 said.
  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.

You can also review these helpful online resources.  

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. Should you feel the need for more information or support, please contact your student’s principal or school counselor.