School Officials Raise Awarness of Suicide Themed Show. Commissioner Emanual Capers Calls it 'Teaching Opportunity'

The New Jersey Suicide Prevention Hopeline has specialists available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can be reached at 1-855-NJ-HOPELINE (654-6735) Credits: New Jersey Suicide Prevention Hopeline

PATERSON, NJ- Saying that watching the series may cause young people and teenagers to perceive that “suicide is a viable and/or romanticized option to coping with difficult circumstances,” Paterson Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer sent a letter to parents on May 15 to make them aware of the recent release of the second season of “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Netflix.

The series, which the letter says “many young people are watching,” revolves around the suicide of a high school student and contains content “which may be difficult for teenagers to process in an appropriate way.”

Speaking to TAPinto Paterson, Board of Education Commissioner Emanuel Capers said that he brought the release of the show to Shafer’s attention after finding out that his own daughter had been watching it.  

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“This is a serious issue that our children are facing,” Capers said. Reiterating a lengthy post he shared on Facebook Capers continued to say that the series, which he has watched in its entirety, is concerning because it “makes the viewers think that suicide is only an external event when in reality bullying, excessive drinking/drug use, failure to identify mental issues and internal factors all contribute to the result of one looking to end their life.

Rather than calling for the removal of the show from the streaming service Capers went on to encourage parents to become familiar with it for the “teaching opportunity” it contains.

“In order to address these issues with teenagers we need to remember to ask about what they are feeling and seeing, and we need to listen.”

Both Schafer’s letter and Capers’ post contained information regarding several resources available to those who may be struggling with the issues the show portrays including the NJ Suicide Prevention Hotline at (855)- 654-6735 and the NJ Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention.

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