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Lower Merion School District

Off-Canvas

Letter to Parents/Guardians regarding Netflix 13 Reasons Why

May 2017

Dear Families:

A new Netflix series popular with teens and pre-teens has generated a great deal of attention and controversy due to its difficult subject matter and potential impact on children. The 13-episode series, 13 Reasons Why (adapted from a 2007 novel written by Jay Asher), tells of a high school student named Hannah who tragically ended her own life, but not before recording 13 sides of audio cassette tape implicating 13 individuals in her death. The series depicts strong and graphic themes of suicide, bullying, sexual assault, drug use and other social issues. For those who may struggle with similar challenges as Hannah or live with their own vulnerabilities, the overall message of this series may get distorted into a false sense that suicide is a natural way of solving life's struggles.

Many of our students are talking about the series in school and are likely continuing their conversations outside of our buildings. The show is bringing to the surface some questions and feelings that should be addressed by parents and school professionals. Adults are needed to support, provide resources, and at times give realistic perspective to students as they navigate through the show's themes. As a resource for these conversations, the Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative has shared talking points developed by SAVE and the Jed Foundation that we encourage you to review.

Some suggestions for your consideration:

  • Watch the series for yourself. Viewing even one episode allows you to be aware of the issues raised.
  • If your child is watching the series, have a conversation with him/her about the content and even possibly watch the series together.
  • Encourage your child to speak with an adult if they feel overwhelmed or depressed.
  • Please take time to read the attached Talking Points for 13 Reasons Why.

Additional resources include:

1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK)

2. Crisis Text Line – text "HOME" to 741-741

3. www.youthsuicidewarningsigns.org

Our school professionals including nurses, counselors, social workers and psychologists along with building principals and teachers strive to create a safe and encouraging environment each day for every student. If you need any additional support, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our team members within Student Services.

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