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Superintendent's Message

Posted: Fri, 05-05-2017 - 08:34 AM

Dear Parents and Guardians:

13 Reasons Why is a new series on Netflix that has developed a large following and is raising concerns in communities across the country.  I want to make sure that SLCSD families know about the series and our concerns.  I also want to provide resources to families to help with conversations associated with the series.

The series is based on a novel written by Jay Asher in 2007.  Hanna Baker, a high school student, leaves behind 13 cassette tapes that provide the details on why she chose to take her own life.  Her classmates have to deal with her death and try to piece together why Hannah chose to commit suicide.

The series content is extremely graphic, with disturbing scenes in each episode, which may be difficult for impressionable minds to watch.  Without the support of caring adults, many young people may not be able to process what they observe on television, and may also interpret that suicide is a viable and/or romanticized option. 

Mental healthcare professionals and educators believe that the series has multiple shortcomings including:

  • There is no mention of behavioral health and/or treatment options.
  • The notion of suicide is in some ways glamorized.
  • There are no examples of teens seeking help in the series.
  • There are several scenes depicting serious trauma, including rape, bullying, alcoholism, and suicide, in which the teens do not seek help or resources.
  • The graphic portrayal of Hannah’s actual suicide was unnecessary and potentially harmful to young people facing challenges.

I encourage you to talk to your child and ask if they have read the book or viewed the series. If so, please use the series as an opportunity to talk about some of its complicated issues.  Please refer to the attached references as a guide to help with difficult conversations on the series.  Know that you have caring educators at your child’s school who are ready to support you and your child.

Thank you for your attention to this very important matter. Should you feel the need for more information or support, please contact your student’s principal or school counselor.

13 Reasons Why Guidance
13 Reasons Why Talking Points

Yours in education,
Lexi Cunningham, Ed.D

Salt Lake City School District Apple

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