Dear Weber School District Parents/Guardians,
Many of you may be aware of the current popularity of a Netflix series entitled, 13 Reasons Why. It is especially popular within our teen population. NASP (National Association of School Psychologists), USBE (Utah State Board of Education), and several national and local mental health/suicide prevention agencies, along with Weber School District, concur, and do not recommend this series to all students. More specifically, the series is not recommended for students who may be struggling with suicidal ideation and/or depression.
We are certainly supportive of heightening awareness about the public health crisis of suicide in the state of Utah. In 2015, suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10 - 17. It is the second leading cause of death for ages 18 - 24 and 25 - 44, and the fourth-leading cause of death for ages 45 - 64. Overall, suicide is the seventh-leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10+. We feel it is important to provide information and resources aimed at fully informing you about this popular web-based series. According to Brooke Fox, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and author of "13 Reasons Why, and Its Unintended Consequences", the series "… is a suicide revenge fantasy." The main character, Hannah, completes suicide and Brooke Fox states, "Hannah received everything in death that she was hoping for: sympathy, deep regret, guilt, and ultimately—love. However, what the teen brain cannot process is the fact that Hannah is dead – permanently, and never coming back. The concept of the permanence of death is not solidified for a teen at this point in development. This makes suicide seem like an actual option if this can be achieved."
We realize our youth will view/engage in this series and conversations about its content will occur in our homes and schools – mainly teenager to teenager. So, how do we empower ourselves, as educators and adults, to combat the potentially dangerous themes perpetuated to our kids via this series? We strongly encourage you to have conversations with your child, as we are currently engaged in conversations with our teachers, counselors, administrators and school patrons. Review, utilize and share the resources accessible below/attached, and familiarize yourself with the article: "13 Reasons Why, and Its Unintended Consequences" by Brooke Fox, LCSW. Feel free to contact your child’s school counselor in order to obtain information and/or guidance, as well. Research indicates that talking about suicide with our kids does not increase the likelihood of suicide. Talking to your child about suicide gives him/her the sense that the topic is not "taboo" and opens up important lines of communication.
Below you'll find suicide prevention resources which provides several ways to "reach out" to trained mental health professionals. The SafeUT app allows users to anonymously submit a tip and/or speak directly with a crisis counselor affiliated with UNI (University Neuropsychiatric Institute – U of U Health). Each school in our district has promoted this valuable resource and encourages students and parents, alike, to download the app onto digital devices. The SafeUT app has literally saved lives in Utah!
Here’s the link to the article:
Check out these great resources related to suicide prevention:
We truly care about our students and are fully committed to the implementation of effective suicide prevention efforts in our district. We want each of our students to feel loved and supported as they progress through our schools and encounter the personal challenges related to this life. Addressing the needs of "the whole child" is foundational to The Weber Way.
Weber School District
Student Services Director
5320 Adams Avenue Parkway