DENVER — Denver Public Schools released a letter to parents to address concerns over a new popular series on Netflix on Thursday.
The series, “13 Reasons Why,” is about a high school girl who takes her own life and leaves audio recordings behind to explain why.
The show is generating a lot of buzz for its popularity among teens and on social media.
But the series has also been the subject of controversy for its portrayal of several serious issues such as bullying and sexual assault, but particularly suicide.
Katherine Plog Martinez, the executive director of Whole Child at Denver Public Schools, said the district released a letter to loop in parents about the show and offer advice to families.
“While the show brings up the importance to talk about suicidal thoughts, it portrays situations where youth are dealing with serious issues, from bullying to sexual assault, without getting support from adults,” a portion of the letter reads.
Martinez emphasized that would not be the case at DPS. The district has trained professionals who are dedicated to helping students with suicide prevention and support.
“We want folks to know we take suicide prevention very seriously in Denver Public Schools. We have a great team of school based and central folks who are dedicated to saving lives and keeping our kids safe,” Martinez said.
Help is available to parents as well.
“We encourage our parents just like our students to reach out to the mental health professionals in our school. They are there as a resource. Parents don’t need to feel like they are navigating this on their own.”
Martinez said the series romanticizes suicide that can be harmful to teens with mental health issues and/or are having serious thoughts about suicide.
The letter recommends parents with students who have a history of suicidal thoughts, depression or mental health concerns should not be allowed to watch the series. All parents should consider their student’s age before giving the greenlight.
The letter also includes the of helpful resources for parents and students, including the Colorado Crisis and Support Line (844-493-8255, or text “Talk” to 38255); the National Suicide Hotline (800-273-8255); Safe2Tell (877-542-7233); and the Trevor Project hotline for suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth (866-488-7386).
There’s also talking points for parents from the National Association of School Psychologists.