April 25, 2017
We are learning that a growing number of our students, especially at the secondary level, are watching a series that is based on a fictional novel. Netflix just released its highly publicized series 13 Reasons Why, an adaptation of the popular 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher. The series consists of 13 episodes that tell the tale of Hannah, a high school student who tragically ended her own life, but not before recording 13 sides of audiocassette tape implicating 13 individuals in her death. The novel is quite captivating and an unfortunate harsh truth about adolescence for some youth. Its move to Netflix will expose its content to a far wider audience. For those who may struggle with similar challenges as Hannah or live with their own vulnerabilities, the overall message of this series may be distorted into a sense that suicide is a natural way of solving life’s struggles. It is not.
The Pennsylvania Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative is pleased to share with you key talking points developed by SAVE and the Jed Foundation. It is with near certainty that many of our students will be talking about this series in school, in the community and at home. Being armed with appropriate and positive messages will help students struggling with their own emotional response to this series to put the dramatized content into realistic perspective and afford you with new opportunities for engaging these youth and providing necessary support and resources.
If your student is watching this series, or reading the book, please have conversations with him/her about the contents. Although the topics covered in the story are important for students to explore and understand, we believe this will be best accomplished under the guidance of an adult who can give them the clear message that suicide is not the answer to life’s problems. Suicide is preventable.
Additional key resources include:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-TALK
- Berks County Crisis Line — 1-877-236-4600
- Berks County Crisis Line — Text RuOK to 484-816-ruOK (7865)
- youthsuicidewarningsigns.org — accurate, up-to-date, empirically-informed warning signs for youth suicide and how you can respond to someone in crisis