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Response to 13 Reasons Why, Season 2

Lidia Harding
Blog Events For parents
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Thank you to Matt Gillingham, Director of Student Services for the Lake Washington School District, for providing the following resources. YES, will be partnering with the Lake Washington School District and other local organizations, to present a parent educational event around the series and themes such as suicide, sexual assault and how to engage with your teenager, the first week of June. If you’d like more information on the event please email Lidia Harding at YES lharding@youtheastsideservices.org

Netflix has released the second season of Thirteen Reasons Why on Friday, May 18. Last year, the release of the show prompted much discussion amongst students. The first season of the show dealt with graphic and sensitive issues including suicide, self-harm, rape, and bullying.

Given both the popularity and sensitive nature of the show we wanted to share resources with you, as well as to share the supports in place at LWSD schools. Several organizations put together helpful information for parents.

  • Common Sense Media rated the series for ages 16+ and their review provides parents with more detailed information on the series along with guiding questions to discuss when watching the show.
  • Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and the JED Foundation created talking points for conversations with youth specific to the 13 Reasons Why series.
  • Forefront, a collaborative effort of schools at the University of Washington to prevent suicide, released a statement in response to the show.

The National Association of School Psychologists states, “research shows that exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide.” The organization has provided the following guidance for educators and families:

  1. Ask your child if they have heard or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While we don’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
  2. If they exhibit any warning signs, 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.
  3. Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. 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.
  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 one of their peers.

Each school in the Lake Washington School District has a suicide prevention plan and all counselors have participated in suicide prevention training. Additionally, the district has partnerships in place to help students at risk in conducting risk assessments and in accessing mental health professionals. More information about LWSD supports and resources can be found on our webpage.

If you have concerns about your child or another student please do not hesitate to contact their school counselor or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Teen suicide is an important topic of discussion and while the show may not always portray the best practices of suicide prevention, it does present us with an opportunity to engage youth in conversations and help students at-risk get access to support and care.

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