Important information re: 13 Reasons Why and possibly impact on students

May 4, 2017

Dear Skinner Families,

 

I am writing to inform you about a new Netflix series titled 13 Reasons Why and its possible impact on our students. 13 Reasons Why is gaining popularity and we have concerns that the series may increase thoughts of suicide among students.

 

The show is based on a novel and the story of 17-year-old girl who takes her own life. She leaves behind 13 recordings explaining the reasons why she chose to commit suicide. While the show brings up the importance to talk about suicidal thoughts, it portrays situations where youth are dealing with serious issues, from bullying to sexual assault, without getting support from adults.

 

Denver Public Schools teaches the Signs of Suicide (SOS) curriculum in sixth and ninth grade across the district. The SOS curriculum focuses on supporting students to identify warning signs of depression or thoughts of suicide and make a report to a trusted adult for support. Our school social worker, psychologist and school nurse are trained in suicide prevention and supports and, unlike some of the adults in 13 Reasons Why, take all reports seriously.

 

You may wish to discuss the series, or thoughts of suicide, with your child. Talk to your student about what they can do if he/she has a friend who is expressing thoughts about hurting him/herself.  As we discuss in the SOS curriculum, teach your child to acknowledge if someone has a problem, be caring and tell an adult. Remind your child that there is help available if he/she or a friend ever feels sad or depressed. Be sure your child has the hotline numbers listed below.

 

Please consider the age and developmental stage of your child before allowing her/him to watch the show. We do not recommend that students with a history of suicidal thoughts, depression or mental health concerns watch 13 Reasons Why. If you do allow your child to watch this series, we recommend you watch it with them and discuss it afterwards.

 

If your child has warning signs of depression or suicide, don’t be afraid to ask if he/she has had thoughts about suicide. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk. Instead, it decreases the risk by providing an opportunity for help.

 

If your child is in need of assistance, please reach out to our school social worker, Mr. Waldon or school psychologist, Ms. Zogler-Brown.

 

Sincerely,

Michelle Koyama

Principal

 

Helpful Resources

Colorado Crisis and Support Line at 844-493-8255, or Text TALK to 38255

National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255                  Safe2Tell at 877-542-7233

Trevor Project Hotline for Suicide Prevention for LGBTQ youth 866-488-7386

Talking Points for Parents:

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-andpublications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators

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