Wapato Public School families:
We want to bring your attention to a recently released series on Netflix that we know has grabbed the attention of a growing number of our students. The series is called 13 Reasons Why. It is based on a 2007 novel by the same title. The Netflix series consists of 13 episodes that tell the fictional story of a high school student named Hannah who tragically ends her own life, but not before recording 13 audio messages implicating 13 individuals in her death.
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. Below are some points of guidance families can use as conversation starters to address the content of the series and the issue of suicide. The talking points are provided by the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and the JED Foundation.
- Ask your child if they have heard of or seen the series 13 Reasons Why. While we don’t recommend that they be encouraged to view the series, do tell them you want to watch it, with them or to catch up, and discuss their thoughts.
- If they exhibit any warning signs (direct & indirect threats of suicide, giving away prized possessions, preoccupation with death, emotional distress, changes in behavior/appearance/hygiene) don’t be afraid to ask if they have thought about suicide or if someone is hurting them. Raising the issue of suicide does not increase the risk or plant the idea. On the contrary, it creates the opportunity to offer help.
- Ask your child if they think any of their friends or classmates exhibit warning signs. Talk with them about how to seek help for their friend or classmate. Guide them on how to respond when they see or hear any of the warning signs.
- Listen to your children’s comments without judgment. Doing so requires that you fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said. Put your own agenda aside.
- Get help from a school-employed or community-based mental health professional if you are concerned for your child’s safety or the safety of one of their peers.
Here are some additional resources:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Yakima County Comprehensive Health Care Crisis Line: 1-800-572-8122
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center: www.sprc.org
- National Alliance on Mental Illness of Yakima: www.NamiYakima.org
It is important to remember that suicide is preventable.