By Raetta Holdman
(CBS4) — Netflix and school officials here in Colorado are taking pro-active measures before the release of the second season of “13 Reasons Why.”
The series is based on the young adult novel of the same name and tackles issues of teen suicide, bullying, sexual assault and depression through the story of Hannah Baker, a teenager who ultimately commits suicide.
She leaves behind a series of audio cassettes explaining her actions and the impact 13 people in her school had on her life.
After the first season was released (Netflix posted all 13 episodes at the same time on March 31, 2017), Douglas County Schools sent out a letter telling parents to talk with their children and offering resources.
With the release of season two slated for May 18, the principal at Louisville Middle School included a note in their weekly newsletter to parents, including what was called a serious of warning from the counseling and administration team.
It says, in part, “Please know that we are NOT supporting this show, but rather are striving to be proactive as this show depicts depression, suicide and self-harm, sexual assault, and bullying in very raw, sometimes untrue light. LMS has decided to provide families with some resources, as we anticipate some ripple effect within our school community. Some of our students may know nothing about this show, whereas others have been deeply affected. Please do know that the graphic nature of this show, both season 1 and season 2, is not suitable to young children, however, we have found that many students have access to stream Netflix and watch without parental guidance/support/knowledge. The timing of the release of season 2 is a cause of concern, as we head off into summer break shortly after its release.”
Netflix itself addressed the concerns raised after season one, in part, by adding a warning to the opening credits of season two.
It also worked with Northwestern University for a study of more than 5,000 teens, young adults and parents around the world.
In part, researchers asked if media can help parents and children have conversations about difficult topics like suicide.
Fifty-eight percent of the teen viewers surveyed said they did talk with their parents about the show and the issues it raised. Fifty-one percent said they apologized to someone for how they’d treated them after watching.
Netflix also produced a companion show, “Beyond the Reasons.” It included executive producer Selena Gomez as well as the young actors in the series talking about the impact of the events in the show and what it was like portraying them.
That same study found the viewers who watched that series wanted more access to informational resources.
Netflix also produced a campaign “13 Reasons Why – Tell Them” which focuses on two young women who talk about their experiences with an abusive relationships, the impact of the series in their lives and how they’ve tried to use it to help others.
You can find the entire study commissioned by Netflix here.
The American School Counselor Association has shared information about what staff members, parents and students should know about the issues raised by the series, along with multiple resources available for students in need. You can find that information here.
To find out more about the show as well as resources to help in times of crisis or suicide prevention, click here.