"13 Reasons Why" Parent Resource

  • Wednesday, May 16, 2018

    Dear Parents/Guardians of JHS and JMS students,

    As your child’s school counselors and social workers, it is our job to focus on the needs of all of our students. This is why we felt it was important to reach out to all of the Jordan Middle and High School families and make them aware that a second season of the Netflix TV series 13 Reasons Why will be released on Friday, May 18th. There are indications that teenagers are watching the first season in order to prepare for the release of the second season. Netflix has confirmed that this second season will explore difficult issues and storylines.

    The first season of the series depicts the story of a student named Hannah who leaves 13 audiotapes detailing the events, or “reasons”, why she ultimately decides to take her own life. There are a few things that are concerning surrounding the series:

    1. There are graphic depictions of bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, and suicide can be triggering, especially for anyone who is or has struggled with any of these things.
    2. The show depicts a simplified version of suicide. The majority of people who have suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or die by suicide have an underlying mental illness that requires professional treatment. The show does not mention mental illness, or specifically, depression at all.
    3. Hannah’s tapes blame others for her suicide. Suicide is never the fault of survivors of suicide.
    4. None of the adults appear to know how to help when they see the students struggling. Specifically, the school counselor is dismissive, distracted and unhelpful. This sends a dangerous message to students and we hope they know there are adults who will listen and know how to help them. School counselors and social workers are trained professionals and a trustworthy source for help.

    The series may spark some necessary conversation between you and your child. These conversations could include the importance of kindness toward others, mental health topics, and how to support others when they are having suicidal ideations. We have included some resources in this letter to help support those conversations.

    Netflix has created a discussion guide > http://13reasonswhy.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/13-Reasons-Why-Season-1-Discussion-Guide.compressed.pdf  for you and your child to look over before watching the series.

    The National Association of School Psychologists has also put together a web page with guidance for both educators and parents surrounding this series: http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators

    As always, if you have individual concerns about your child related to mental health, or need additional resources, please contact your child’s school counselor or social worker.

    Best Regards,

    Chelsey Meyer, School Counselor JMS & JHS cmeyer@isd717.org
    Robin Whiteside, School Counselor JHS rwhiteside@isd717.org
    Cayla Rother, School Social Worker JMS crother@isd717.org
    Mary Bright, School Social Worker JHS mbright@isd717.org