Return to Headlines

Notes for Parents about "13 Reasons Why"

En español (PDF)

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Netflix has announced that it will release the second season of a series called "13 Reasons Why" on May 18, 2018. The show is a fictional account of a teenage character who dies by suicide. Season 1 of the series was rated TV-MA (Mature Audience Only), which means it was specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17 because of crude indecent language, explicit sexual activity, and/or graphic violence.

The Student Support Services leadership is bringing this to your attention because many Durham Public Schools students may watch Season 2 of the series. It is also possible that they will be watching or rewatching Season 1 in order to “be up to speed” for the second season. While we are not yet sure of the specific storyline, early reviews suggest that Season 2 will continue to explore high school life in a way that dramatizes difficult and painful issues. One probable storyline, for example, is a more detailed account of the events surrounding the rape of the main character which contributed to her suicide.

While the miniseries attempts to address many topics that can lead to important conversations with students, such as bullying, cyber-bullying, assault, rape, and suicide, the content runs counter to the recommendations of mental health professionals and suicide prevention models. Therefore, ​The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) strongly recommends that vulnerable children and youth (such as those struggling with depression, previous suicidal behavior, or trauma) not watch the first season, and most certainly not alone. ​This recommendation will most likely hold true for the second season, as well.

This series highlights how important it is for adults to be aware of what children and youth in their care are watching. This includes monitoring access to content via televisions, computers, tablets, and mobile devices. It is also important to have conversations about challenging, complex, and controversial material when students do watch it.

Here are some resources to spark meaningful conversation about the issues explored in the series:

Students in all our schools have access to Student Support Services personnel (e.g., school counselors, school social workers and psychologists) who have been trained in suicide prevention and risk assessment. Durham Public Schools has also partnered with community mental health agencies to provide mental health services at every school.​ ​If you are concerned about a student or if you have questions, please contact the School Counselor or School Social Worker at your school.

For additional information, go to ​https://www.dpsnc.net/Page/823​.

Additional Resource:

Durham Public Schools principals, staff and leadership remain committed to supporting our students. Again, please contact your son or daughter’s school if you have questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Shearer​,
Executive Director Student Support Services 919-287-4193