Attention Parents/Guardians
Published on May 17, 2018 17:47

Dear Millis Community,


Many of you will remember the discussions that ensued last year when the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why was released.  The series is based on a young adult novel by Jay Asher originally published in 2011. The story focused on a high school student who dies by suicide, leaving behind 13 tapes detailing why she took her own life. The first series contained graphic scenes of suicide and sexual assault/rape. It also portrayed issues of cyber-bullying, alcoholism, and depression and depicted serious trauma without showing any effective ways for teens to reach out or seek help.


The sequel to 13 Reasons Why will be released by Netflix this Friday, May 18. There was a lot of concern in the suicide prevention community about the original release of 13 Reasons Why. The good news is that the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) worked with Netflix on the sequel.  We felt it important to bring awareness to the new season, and give you some resources to support conversations with your children should you decide to watch the new season.


For those who may decide to watch 13 Reasons Why Season 1 before the sequel, here is a resource guide that was developed by a team of experts.  Also, this article presents a good summary of the concerns around this series along with a lot of good information. Additionally, here is a video from Netflix discussing Season 1 and what to expect from Season 2.


The following additional resources provide important guidance on the issues addressed in the show, as well as talking points for having a meaningful conversation with your child:


  • National Association of School Psychologists (Background) http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators/information-regarding-the-upcoming-release-of-13-reasons-why-season-2  
  • Jed Foundation https://www.jedfoundation.org/13-reasons-research-results-released/  
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Common Sense Media - https://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-reviews/13-reasons-why
  • This link provides a comparison of the book to the Netflix series: http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/thirteen-reasons-why-book-vs-the-show.html

As we discussed last year, these issues are extraordinarily challenging and may be difficult for some students to process in a healthy and appropriate way. We want to ensure that families are not only aware of the show, but are equipped with resources to help them address these issues with their children. Our students are routinely screened for signs and symptoms of mental illness and suicidal ideation.  Students receive education regarding mental illness and suicide prevention through their health education curriculum, and through the evidence-based Signs of Suicide program that is presented to our students by our counseling staff. Our faculty and counseling staff have also been made aware of the concerns generated by this series and they are prepared to support our students. In health and wellness classes at Millis High School, the book, which is quite different from and less disturbing than the original Netflix series, has been used for several years and is discussed in appropriate ways. It is essential that discussion accompany both the book and the series.


Please be aware of what your children are watching. The link to set parental controls for Netflix is:  https://help.netflix.com/en/node/24805


Addressing the social and emotional needs of our students is a foundational district goal, one that we take very seriously. It is essential that we work in partnership with families on important issues that impact our students. We know these issues are challenging and hope this information is helpful. If you have any concerns, please reach out to your child’s school counselor directly.  We are here to help. Thank you for your attention to this important topic.


Sincerely,


Mark Awdycki Riley Dunn School Counselors Erin Sullivan Adjustment Counselor Robert Mullaney

Principal


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