Thirteen reasons why
Information provided by the Douglas County School District
A new Netflix series that debuted in March has become a popular topic of conversation in the hallways of several Douglas County schools, causing concern for some parents.
Based on a 2011 New York Times best selling novel by Jay Asher, “13 Reasons Why” is a fictional story that focuses on a teenage girl and the reasons she committed suicide.
“What is concerning to some parents is the Netflix series. In places, is fairly graphic,” explained DCSD Prevention & School Culture Coordinator Staci McCormack. “Both the book and the Netflix series are written from the perspective of this young woman who died by suicide. After her death, tapes are discovered where she speaks about people whom she feels are responsible for her suicide ideation and eventually her death.”
In addition to the suicide itself, scenes in the Netflix series depict rape, teens cutting themselves and other mature themes. While this may be worrisome for some parents who may wish to insulate their teens from this type of material, McCormack and others in the Health and Wellness department wanted to bring awareness of the series to parents and say it could be an opportunity.
“[Discussion of the series and suicide] is everywhere,” stated DCSD Intervention and Support Coordinator Colette Hohnbaum. “We can’t put a cap on it, but let’s be thoughtful about it. If your kids are going to watch it, watch a couple [of episodes] with them.”
“I look at the positive side. This fictional book and this series on Netflix can actually prompt some good conversation with your child at home,” McCormack added. “It is really important to remember what research tells us – talking about suicide does not create suicidal ideations.” McCormack encourages parents to welcome their child’s curiosity and talk about it.
“Many children are curious about death or suicide,” Hohnbaum said. “When we know and are aware and expect our kids to be curious about things, that is when we can step up and say, ‘I notice you were reading or watching this. Why are you interested in it? What are you thinking about it’?”
“Don’t assume anything,” McCormack added. “It is important for us to have our eyes on our kids at all times. Engage in conversations with them about what they are watching, reading and thinking.”
Both Hohnbaum and McCormack encourage parents to especially keep an eye out for dramatic changes in behavior or physical appearance, depression, threats or efforts to hurt themselves. Additionally, children who have attempted suicide previously or have had a loss in their lives recently may be at higher risk.
For additional information and resources, visit https://dcsdk12.org and type “13 Reasons” into the search function. If parents need assistance after hours or in a crisis, DCSD encourages them to call Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. In case of a life-threatening emergency, always call 911.