Almost at the same time this afternoon, the two public school districts that serve Naperville released educational information regarding the Netflix series titled “13 Reasons Why,” based on Jay Asher’s 2007 young adult novel.

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Dear Naperville 203 Families,

As you may know, Netflix has released a new series about teen suicide titled, “13 Reasons Why,” based on Jay Asher’s 2007 young adult novel. Since its release, the series has received considerable attention from adolescents, parents, and the media. Netflix has rated the series “TVMA,” (not suitable for children under the age of 17) and provided additional “caution” warnings to viewers due to the mature content.  

The series has been praised for providing students and families with an avenue to discuss the difficult topics of suicide, sexual assault, depression, drug use, and bullying. However, mental health professionals have raised concerns with the manner in which mental illness is not addressed and the lack of attention to suicide prevention.

We wanted you to be aware of the series and encourage you to thoughtfully consider whether or not it is appropriate for your child to view.  We know some students have already viewed it, so we are providing talking points from the JED Foundation to help parents engage in meaningful conversation about these difficult topics. The talking points can also support conversations if your child is reading the novel.

Should you have additional questions or a specific concern about your child, please contact the school social worker, counselor or principal.

Sincerely,    

Christine Igoe, Ed.D, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services             

Stacy Colgan, Supervisor of Social Work Services


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As parents, we want you to be aware of a new series on Netflix called 13 Reasons Why. The show is based on a book written by Jay Asher about a high school student who commits suicide and leaves behind audio recordings documenting the 13 reasons why she chose to end her life. Some of the episodes are graphic in nature and include scenes involving sexual assault, substance abuse and the event of the suicide.

Parents may have watched the series and/or read the recent commentary in the Chicago Tribune.

Much has been written about this series, some in support of it forcing us to confront the issues surrounding teen suicide, while others are concerned about the graphic nature and the messages it sends to the viewer. We realize many students have seen this series or are planning to do so in the near future. It is our recommendation that parents use this as an opportunity to question if this series is appropriate for your child. If you know that your child is sensitive to the things they watch and easily influenced, it is possible this show may have a strong negative effect on your child.

If your child has already viewed the series, we encourage you to sit down with them and speak openly about what the series meant to him/her. It is also an opportunity for parents to talk about the alternatives to suicide when feeling sad, anxious and overwhelmed with the stress of life. We believe these conversations are crucial as your children navigates both their feelings and the complex issues that are introduced in the series.

Our community partner, 360 Youth Services, has provided resources for parents on this topic. Information includes talking points for family discussions and 5 things to tell your child about this series. (The information has been copied below.)

As always, if a parent has a specific concern about his/her child, we encourage you to contact your school social worker, counselor or principal.

360 Youth Services Resources for Parents: Talking with Your Teen About 13 Reasons Why?

360 Youth Services Clinical Director Margot Smith offers the following resource links to support you in talking with your teen about the show 13 Reasons Why?:

Information Parents Should Know about 13 Reasons Why (Chicago Now)

What Viewers Should Consider (JED Foundation)

Talking Points for Viewing and Discussing (JED Foundation)

5 Things to Tell Your Child About 13 Reasons Why (Harvard)

Discussion Guide for Teachers (We Are Teachers)

There is help for anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you know needs immediate help, you have options:

 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)

 National Suicide Prevention Text Line: Text 741741

 Call 9-1-1

 Take the person to an emergency room.

360 Youth Services Counseling Department 360 Youth Services provides youth-focused support, for young people ages 10-25 and adults in their lives.

For more information, or to schedule a Counseling appointment, contact Kate Moon-Raess Intake Coordinator and Clinical Therapist at (630) 717-9408 ext. 1180 or kmoon@360youthservices.org.


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