Comments on "13 Reasons Why"

posted May 9, 2017, 10:59 AM by Richard Safier

Gloucester Public Schools

Our mission is for all students to be successful, engaged, lifelong learners

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Richard Safier, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

2 Blackburn Drive

Gloucester, MA  01930

Phone:  (978) 281-9800/Fax:  (978) 281-9899



RE: Comments on 13 Reasons Why

May 5, 2017


Dear Gloucester Families,


Supporting the social and emotional health of our students is an important aspect of the work of the Gloucester Public Schools. As part of this work, when necessary, we reach out to families to make them aware of issues that may be of concern. We write to you today to make sure that you are aware of the new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, which is raising concerns from suicide prevention experts about the potential risks posed by its sensationalized treatment of youth suicide. 

13 Reasons Why is the story of a high school student who commits suicide, leaving behind thirteen tapes which detail the reasons behind her taking her own life. The series deals with challenging issues including bullying, cyberbullying, depression, and abuse.  The series also contains graphic scenes of sexual assault, rape, and suicide.  


I am writing to you today to make sure that you are aware of the show.  Teenage suicide is an extremely difficult topic that both students and adults struggle to understand and process.  We encourage you to consider the following:


·      Ask your child if they have watched the show or discussed the show with peers who have watched it;

·      If your child has already watched or discussed the show, we encourage you to discuss the show with them;

·      If your child has not yet watched the show but asks to view it, we encourage you to watch it with them or preview it prior to their watching.  


Our service providers—counselors, nurses, social workers, and health and physical education teachers—are aware of the impact of this show and they are prepared to provide any support you may need. We will be discussing the film’s potential silent impact, and will keep that potential in the forefront when working with our students. If you have a concern or question, we encourage you to work closely with the school counseling team at your child’s school.


Below are several links which provide additional resources to support conversations with your child about this series.

National Association of School Psychologists (background)


Jed Foundation (issues raised)


Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (talking points)



Richard Safier