A Note to our Riverview Community Regarding 13 Reasons Why
Promotional photo courtesy of Netflix.
13 Reasons Why
Netflix recently released a new television series, 13 Reasons Why, based on a 2011 best-selling novel of the same name, by Jay Asher. The story is about high school student Hannah Baker who, prior to taking her life by suicide, records the reasons which led to her decision, and sends the audio recordings to the people she blames. The show has generated a great deal of discussion, along with divisive reactions, due to its frank and graphic depictions of topics including suicide, rape, abuse, underage drinking, sexism, LGBTQ issues, and survivor's guilt.
As the show's popularity continues to increase, particularly among high school and middle school-aged viewers, a great number of concerns have been raised from parents, other students, and mental health advocates and professionals regarding the manner with which the topics are addressed and presented in the television series. An additional concern is that parents or guardians may not be aware that their children have even viewed the series, with all 13 episodes available for viewing on the Netflix service, and easily accessible to subscribers on their personal computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Parents should know that the series has been rated TV-MA (Mature Audiences), the television equivalent to an R-rating for motion pictures with similar content.
A growing number of suicide prevention experts have expressed concern that the show reinforces stigma and misconceptions about suicide. Recommendations have been made that vulnerable youth, especially those with any degree of suicide ideation, avoid watching the series.
If your student does watch the show or read the book, you may wish to discuss:
- The importance of treating people with kindness.
- How to cope with the death of a friend, parent, or loved one.
- Who students can talk to when experiencing emotional distress, or what to do when they suspect someone needs help. Students should be reminded that school counselors are trusted professionals and sources of help.
(Note: The actor portraying the counselor in 13 Reasons Why does not respond to Hannah appropriately, a decision made intentionally by the creators of the book and series.)
For those seeking assistance, guidance, or additional information regarding the topics raised in the program and book, a number of resources are accessible and available.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is staffed 24/7. If your teen or someone they know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-8255. You may also visit the website for the Lifeline.
Talking points have been created by the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and JED Foundation, an organization whose mission is to protect emotional health and prevent teen suicide.
The University of Washington's Forefront Program has extensive information and resources for parents, educators and teens, specific to the series.
The Crisis Text Line is available for those concerned about themselves or a friend, by texting 741741 on their mobile phone.
RAINN provides staffing 24/7 to assist victims of sexual assault, through a hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) or via a live, anonymous, and confidential online chat with a trained support specialist.
The Trevor Project is an organization committed to assisting LGBTQ youth, dealing with crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a support in a caring environment. They can be contacted by phone (1-866-488-7386), confidential online chat, a confidential text message system, or access to a private, secure, and monitored TrevorSpace social networking site.
Common Sense Media has provided a parents guide for the series, offering detailed descriptions of the content included across all 13 episodes.
Netflix has released 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons, a 30-minute featurette on the series, with cast, crew, and writers providing an overview of the show, with additional information. This is also available for viewing on the Netflix service and rated TV-MA.
If you have any further questions, concerns, or need additional support, please contact any of the undersigned below.
Dr. Anthony L. Smith
John Bomar, Riverview Learning Center
Ray La Bate, Cedarcrest High School
Chris Lupo, Tolt Middle School
Aaron Clifford, Counselor, Cedarcrest High School (A-G)
Amber Claussen, Counselor, Cedarcrest High School (H-N)
Deb Walters, Counselor, Cedarcrest High School (O-Z)
Carrie Diligencia, Counselor, Tolt Middle School (A-K)
Lauren Johnson, Counselor, Tolt Middle School (L-Z)
David Payette, Counselor, Riverview Learning Center | Tolt Middle School