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Frederick County Public Schools Address Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why”

There is a Netflix series trending, based on a novel written for young adults, called 13 Reasons Why. The series revolves around a fictional 17-year-old girl who made audio tapes explaining what each person in her circle has done to hurt her before she takes her own life. The series graphically depicts the themes of bullying, rape and suicide as well as consequences of teens who are bystanders and do not take action to address such situations.

Please be aware that Netflix can be accessed on any electronic device including many cell phones. It is critical that we consider safe messaging when we discuss suicide with students, and that is why we are sharing suggestions that the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has developed:

  1. Ask if your child has heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While we do not recommend encouraging students to view the series (which is not intended for anyone under age 17), if they are going to watch it let them know you want to watch it with them and discuss their thoughts.
  2. If you are concerned that your child is displaying signs that something is wrong (such as direct or indirect suicide threats, giving away prized possessions, changes in behavior, talking about death, etc.), don’t be afraid to ask if your child has thought about suicide or if someone is hurting your child. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
  3. Ask your child if he or she thinks any friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk about how to seek help for the friend or classmate. Guide children on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
  4. Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.
  5. Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of a child’s peer(s).

    If you have questions or concerns, please contact your child’s school counselor.

Here are links to additional information you may find helpful:

13 Reasons Why – Talking Points for Parents

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Resources

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