Skip to main content

Letter from the Director : Netflix Series 13 Reasons Why





May 24, 2018

Dear YRDSB Families,

As you may be aware, season two of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why became available on Netflix May 18, 2018. As you may recall from our letter last spring, the series deals with the difficult topic of suicide and other complex issues. Season one outlined the story of a 17-year-old girl who dies by suicide. She leaves behind cassette tapes for 13 people whose actions she perceived as reasons why she killed herself. Season two explores several other difficult topics including self-harm/cutting, bullying, struggles with identity, sexual assault, gun violence and more, which may be emotionally triggering for vulnerable students.

Although the creators of the series indicate the intent of the show is to help students recognize their effect on others, it does not present viable alternatives to suicide, or have a strong focus on seeking help. There are many negative portrayals of adults and seeking help within the series. This is not a helpful message for youth.

Series like 13 Reasons Why may promote myths and misinformation about suicide. We hope the information in this letter will help you have open conversations with your child. Discussing important but difficult topics with your child lets them know you are open to talking about these subjects. This may make it more likely they will talk to you if they have any concerns/challenges. If young people do not feel they can talk to adults about these subjects, they are likely to seek advice on the internet or from friends, or worse may not talk to anyone.

You may wish to ask your child if they have heard of or seen this series. If your child has not already watched the series but would like to, review it first yourself. Consider watching it together rather than having them watch it alone. This will help you to know how your child is affected by the content. While many youths know the difference between a TV drama and real life, talking with adults about this subject is very important. Adults can help share the message that suicide is not a solution to problems and help is available. You can help your child process their feelings and answer questions about the issues in the series

The following suggestions may help with the conversation:

·         Remind them that the series is fictional.
·         Share that it is normal to experience periods of stress and distress. Offer healthy coping strategies, such as. exercise, art, journaling, talking to friends and adults they trust.
·         Let them know that there are adults at school who care and can help.
·         Talk about where to seek support if they need it from family members, counsellors, coaches, teachers, faith leaders, a crisis line like Kids Help Phone - 1-800-668-6868.


·         Talk openly about emotional distress and suicide. Doing so in a fact-based manner does not increase suicide risk (see tips below).
·         If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, see your family physician and/or share your concerns with the school.
·         If the concern is more urgent, you may call York Region’s Crisis Response Service, 1-855- 310-COPE (2673), the Mental Health Helpline 1-866-531-2600, or take your child to a hospital emergency department. If there is an emergency call 911.

***If you do not want your child to watch this show, Netflix has some resources to help parents. They offer a parental control you can apply individually to this series in the form of a PIN number. You can assign a unique code for both seasons of “13 Reasons Why.” You can set this in the account section of your Netflix account.

As family members it can be difficult to know if a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide. The information below offers several important considerations.

Possible signs someone may be having thoughts of suicide:


·         Suicide threats, both direct (I am going to kill myself. I need life to stop.), and indirect (I need it to stop.” I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up.”). Threats can be verbal or written and are often found in online postings (Instagram, Facebook)
·         Preoccupation with death in conversation, writing, drawing and social media
·         Changes in behavior, appearance/hygiene, sleep habits, thoughts and/or feelings. This can include someone who is typically sad who suddenly becomes extremely happy.
·         Emotional distress.
·         Withdrawing from friends and family

Trust yourself as a parent/guardian. If you feel something is not right with your child or notice any of the signs above, do not hesitate to ask directly about thoughts of suicide. This may be a tough conversation to have, but sends a message that you are open to talking about suicide and increases the chances your child will seek help. That might sound like,

Sometimes when people are under stress, having trouble with friends, and worrying a lot, they have thoughts of suicide. Are you having thoughts of suicide?

Help is Available:


Many staff members in York Region District School Board are trained in suicide intervention and want to help. If you have concerns about your child’s mental health, or need additional resources, please talk to your family doctor or contact your child’s school. Our staff members are committed to supporting the well-being of every YRDSB learner and can help to connect you with resources for support.

To learn more about safely talking about suicide, consider taking suicide intervention training. Find out more at www.livingworks.net.


Further resources about the series can be found at: www.13reasonswhytoolkit.org.

Sincerely,
Louise Sirisk
Director of Education

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Message from our new Principal!

We welcome Westminster's new Principal, Mrs Murray. Please see her message below: 

My name is Melissa Murray and I am thrilled to be joining the staff of Westminster Public School as Principal in January of 2018.
I am passionate about learning and people. I’ve been an administrator in the North area of the Board for the past three years, and have enjoyed working in the WJ Watson (Keswick), Black River (Sutton) and Sutton Public School communities.
Prior to entering administration, I was a Curriculum Consultant with the Board, supporting our K-12 school libraries, literacy, social studies, and modern learning.  Before that, I taught grades 4-8, Special Education and library in both York Region and Toronto.
Along with being a proud educator, I’m an even prouder parent of two children, one in secondary school and one graduating this year from elementary school. My husband and I love our north Richmond Hill community, and especially appreciate how close we are to parks and walking paths t…

January is Tamil Heritage Month

On October 5, 2016, Motion M-24 was passed in the Federal Parliament, officially proclaiming January of every year as Tamil Heritage Month.  Tamil Heritage Month aims to celebrate the richness of the Tamil language and its literature, as well as to highlight the vibrant traditions, histories, arts, and cultures of Tamil Canadians. In addition, it seeks to recognize the significant contributions of Tamil Canadians in key areas of social, cultural, economic, and political spheres. 
According to the Tamil calendar, January 14, 2017 is the start of the Tamil New Year during the month of “Thai”. On this day Tamils around the diaspora will be celebrating Tamil New Year and Thai Pongal, the Tamil harvest festival. 
Thai Pongal is the most important and widely-celebrated festival amongst Tamils around the globe. Thai Pongal is a time to give thanks for the blessings of the previous year and a time to look forward to the New Year. Pongal refers to rice cooked in milk and sweetened with chakkarai…

Character Assembly on "Integrity"

Our Character Assembly this month will be focusing on "Integrity". Throughout the month, our students have been discussing what integrity means to them in the classrooms and with their friends in the school yard. Our students are learning that to have integrity means to be truthful and sincere; to care for the well-being of others by how they treat each other. Displaying integrity is not always easy. It is one of our most difficulty character traits to live by and sometimes it takes years to truly understand what it means.

We look forward to honouring those students who have displayed this trait at our awards assembly on Wednesday, October 28th at 11:15 a.m.

Parents and guardians are welcome to join us.  We thank Mr. Clark and Ms. Croteau's grade 2/3s for hosting the assembly this month.


"Integrity is doing the right thing even if it's difficulty; even when no one is watching." 


"If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it."