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SALT LAKE CITY — Following the release of the third season of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” the Salt Lake City School District emailed parents Thursday “highly discouraging” students from watching the program.
“The show is based on a young adult novel in which a young teenager takes her life. However, due to concerns expressed by organizations like the National Association of School Psychologists and the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, along with the TV-MA rating, we highly discourage students from watching this series,” the email said in part.
The show’s latest season dropped on Aug. 23 and will end after a fourth season.
The email offers parents tips for conversations with their children and provides links to helpful organizations.
Don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
–Salt Lake City School District
The email notes that national psychological organizations are concerned that vulnerable youth may watch the series without understanding the show’s content.
“Please be aware of this Netflix series. It is critical to have thoughtful, open conversations with your child if you have concerns for their emotional well-being,” the email states.
The guidance encourages parents to ask their child if they have heard of or seen the series.
“Don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help,” the email states.
It also encourages asking their child if any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs for suicide. “Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.”
Warning signs of suicide
- Talking about wanting to die
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.Information from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
What to do if you see warning signs of suicide
- Do not leave the person alone
- Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
- Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
- Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional
Parents should listen to their child’s responses without judgment, the guidance suggests. “Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is said,” the email states.
Finally, parents are encouraged to seek help from school-employed or community-based mental health professionals if they are concerned for their child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.
“Schools can play an important role in preventing youth suicide, and being aware of potential risk factors in students’ lives is vital to this responsibility,” the email states.
- Utah County Crisis Line: 801-691-5433
- Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
- Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386