Dear BH-BL Parents and Guardians:
Providing our students necessary and appropriate social and emotional support is a priority within the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District, which is why this letter is intended to make you aware of a controversial series on Netflix entitled “13 Reasons Why” that is trending amongst our students.
The show, which is based on a 2007 young adult fiction novel, has become a topic of conversation nationwide, and has spurred concerns amongst parents, educators and mental health professionals. While the show is intended to be a cautionary tale about a high school student who leaves behind 13 audio recordings detailing why she took her own life, mental health professionals are concerned that the storytelling may lead impressionable young people and teenagers to romanticize the choices made by the characters in the show.
The show's content is extremely graphic, addressing topics such as suicide, bullying, rape, and drunk driving, as well as the consequences of witnessing assaults and bullying and not taking action, all of which could be difficult for youth to watch and process in an appropriate way.
We encourage parents to research the series to understand what your children may be exposed to--whether by watching the Netflix series, reading the book, or talking about it with peers--and talk with your children about the seriousness of these topics. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, doing this presents an opportunity for parents to help their children process the issues addressed, consider the consequences of certain choices, and reinforce the message that suicide is not a solution to problems and that help is available.
Below are talking points developed by Suicide Awareness Voices of Education and The Jed Foundation for your use. Should you feel the need for more information or additional school support for your child, please contact your child’s school to speak with a school social worker.
Timothy Brunson & Colleen Wolff
High School Principal & O’Rourke Middle School Principal