NUTLEY, NJ - Nutley Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Julie Glazer, sent a letter to Nutley parents today addressing the Netflix Series '13 Reasons Why' that deals with the issue of teen suicide.
April 26, 2017
I want to take a moment today and write to you regarding the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why.” The series, based on the 2007 young adult book of the same name, and co-produced by Selena Gomez, delves into the topic of teen suicide. The main character, Hannah, takes her own life and leaves behind cassette tapes, containing messages for those she considers to have pushed her to suicide. There are many graphic scenes in this series.
Many school counselors, mental health professionals and educators have serious concerns about the way this serious topic of teen suicide is presented in the series.
According to a recent story by CNN.com, “some mental health experts say the show could pose health risks for certain young people, such as those who have suicidal thoughts.” While we can all agree that the topic is relevant and worth a conversation with your child, I want to alert you that some experts feel that this series glorifies teen suicide and depicts it in a way in which the viewer may feel that suicide is the only way out of a challenging or depressing time period.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among American young people, between ages 10 and 24.
"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," according to a statement about the show, released by the National Association of School Psychologists. This “copycat” behavior is one of the main concerns experts have regarding the series.
Along with the district’s principals, school counselors and administrators, I urge you to have a conversation with your child if they are watching this series or considering watching it. While it may be difficult, watching it together as a family, may also be an option.
I have included below and attached some resources regarding this series and teen suicide. If you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out to your child’s principal or counselor.
The health and wellbeing of all our students is our top priority. As always, I urge you to seek help if you feel your child is in distress.
Dr. Julie Glazer
Mental Health Resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273- TALK
NJ Hopeline: 1-855-NJ-HOPELINE (654-6735)
2nd Floor Youth Helpline: 888-222-2228 (call or text)