Dear Westford Grades 6 thru 12 Families,
There has been much communication recently about the controversial Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” This series emphasizes some of the difficult issues associated with youth suicide and is a great concern to all of us who are entrusted with supporting the social and emotional well-being of all students. It is not intended to be an educational or instructional film, and it does not appear to provide research based recommendations for treating mental illness and preventing suicide.
We believe it is important to inform you of this controversial series since it is an increasing topic of discussion among students. The fictional series focuses on a female high schools student who commits suicide after having left thirteen tapes which detail the reasons why she decided to end her own life. The series presents challenging issues such as bullying, depression, cyberbullying and abuse.
The issue of suicide is a very difficult issue for adults and children to understand and process. If your child viewed this series, we encourage you to engage them in conversation to understand their thoughts. If your child has not watched this series but intends to do so, we ask that you consider watching it with them and have them discuss their thoughts.
The counselors at our schools are aware of the controversial nature of this series and are prepared to conduct discussion with students about mental health issues and suicide. It is important for all of us to understand that suicide continues to be a leading cause of death to teens and young adults.
We have included three links below which will provided useful information to assist you in having conversations with your children about this series, or mental health issues in general. We will all continue to work together to support the social and emotional health of our children.
National Association of School Psychologists (background)
Jed Foundation (issues raised)
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (talking points)
Everett V. Olsen, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools
Kerry Clery, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
Everett V. Olsen, Jr.
Westford Public Schools
23 Depot Street
Westford, MA 01886