Manhattan Beach Unified School District

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MBUSD Thoughts on "13 Reasons Why"

In the story, a group of high school students attempt to piece together a story left behind by their classmate, who died by suicide.

The series is rated TV-MA, for mature audiences only, which means that it may not be appropriate for children under 17 because of crude indecent language, explicit sexual activity, or graphic violence. While the series does attempt to bring up important topics, it goes against the recommendations of many mental health providers and suicide prevention models. There are real concerns that the series potentially glamorizes suicide and does not offer crucial information regarding mental illness and available support. 

Many of our students are watching the series, ​​and while we are not making recommendations about the show itself, we know that families will of course make their own decisions. If you decide to allow your children to watch it, we strongly encourage you to watch it with them and engage in conversation about the sensitive and emotional topics that it raises (in addition to suicide, these topics include teen drinking, bullying, sexting, rape, etc.). One of our parent education partners is Common Sense Media. They provide excellent guidance for parents on many media pieces, and they do have recommendations about this series. Their recommendations can be found here.

We take all threats of self-harm seriously. If a student makes any kind of threat of self-harm, we will take appropriate next steps, including risk screening and contacting parents and guardians. We never want our students to feel that suicide is a solution. We also want to make sure that parents and guardians know what to watch for; you can read more about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicidal behavior here. 

These are difficult topics to discuss with your children. Specific talking points for discussing 13 Reasons Why can be found here. 

If you need more information or support, please feel to reach out to your school’s support staff or me. For our elementary students, please contact your principal. At MBMS, please reach out to Vice Principal, Margot Parker (mparker@mbusd.org). For our MCHS students, please communicate with your counselor, or Vice Principal Deborah Hofreiter (dhofreiter@mbusd.org). Thank you for helping us keep the lines of communication open and ensuring that our students are safe.
 
Megan Atkins, Assistant Superintendent, Student Services
310.318.7345 ext. 5913
matkins@mbusd.org