As you may be aware, season 2 of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, is scheduled to be released on May 18, 2018.

In series 1, the series depicted the story of a high school student who dies by suicide, leaving behind 13 cassette recordings that share the events that she perceives led to her death. Season 2 of the series will explore a number of storylines that could lead to a larger conversation about subjects including sexual assault, gun violence and more, which may be emotionally triggering for vulnerable students.

Although this series has been promoted by the creators as a tool to help students recognize their impact on others to prevent suicide, it does not address mental illness or present viable alternatives to suicide, including seeking support from mental health professionals. At no point do the actors seek help from family members, friends or other trusted adults.

Series like this one can lead to misconceptions and misinformation about suicide, and possibly to the glorification of suicide and suicide contagion. For these reasons, mental health professionals across North America, including the Peel District School Board’s mental health team, feel it is necessary to make you aware of this series and content.

While we are unaware of any specific incidents related to this series, we want to let you know that we will continue to do everything we can to support student mental health and well-being needs. As students raise questions about the series, staff will address the content in ways that are sensitive and appropriate, especially with our most vulnerable students.

You may wish to ask your child/teen if they have heard of or seen this series. The following are suggestions that may help with the conversation:

• Encourage critical thinking and remind them that the series is fictional and includes many unrealistic elements.

• Remind them that it is normal to experience periods of stress and distress. Offer healthy coping strategies, e.g. exercise, talking to friends, exploring nature. Model this for your children.

• Remind them to always seek support if they need it from family members, counsellors, coaches, teachers, faith leaders, and/or a crisis line like Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868, etc.

• Talk openly about emotional distress and suicide. Doing so doesn’t make someone more suicidal. If you have concerns about your child’s/teen’s mental health, see your family physician and speak to the principal or vice-principal right away.

• If the concern is more urgent, call the Peel Children’s Centre Crisis Response Service at 416-410-8615, take your child to a hospital emergency department or call 911.

• Take all questions seriously and know that Peel board staff are here to support you and your family.

As always, if you have individual concerns about your child/teen related to mental health, or need additional resources, please contact the school. Thank you for partnering with us to support student mental health and well-being.

Thank you,

Peter Joshua

Director of Education

(Image taken from Facebook)