Dear Parents/Guardians of BBMS Students,
We have learned that many young adults are watching a controversial Netflix series, “13 Reason Why”, a fictional account of a teen suicide based on the book with the same title. Writing about the series in The Washington Post, April 14, 2017, entertainment writer Bethonie Butler warns,
“…experts advise against sensational headlines or describing a suicide in graphic detail, which studies have shown can lead to suicide contagion, or “copycat” suicides. While “13 Reasons Why” is fiction, it presents similar concerns for advocates working to educate the public. In 2014, suicide was the second leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teenagers, a key demographic for the book and, ostensibly, the series are at particular risk when it comes to contagion.
Dan Reidenberg, executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), said he has received calls and emails from parents and school guidance counselors about the show. “There is a great amount of concern in the suicide prevention community around this series,” he said….”
With the recent suicides of two Westchester high school students and the research documenting a spike in suicides in the spring, we remind parents to be especially vigilant. The simple act of asking directly about thoughts of suicide can be a powerful way to prevent thoughts from becoming actions. Asking does not create or exacerbate risk of suicide. It is now well-established that beginning a conversation – openly, honestly and without judgment – is very helpful, may defuse the intensity of distress, and in fact may be met by a sense of relief. If someone acknowledges that they are at risk, there are resources that are urgently available. If someone is in imminent danger, please call 911 immediately. For crisis consultation, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text to the crisis text line: 741741.
When concerns do not pose an immediate threat, please take the following precautions:
- If you observe the following behaviors have your teen evaluated by a mental health professional immediately:
- Giving away possessions
- Statements about killing him/herself or statements such as “I’d be better off dead” or “it doesn’t matter anyway”
- Extreme feelings of anger, disappointment, sadness, stress, helplessness, worthlessness, and/or withdrawal from previously enjoyable activities
- Risk taking or self-destructive behavior including an increase in alcohol or other drug use
- Make sure that any guns in the house are locked.
- Securely store all over the counter and prescription medications.
- Dispose of all unused medications. Medications can be anonymously disposed at the Rye Brook Police Station “Drop Box” in the lobby.
If you have questions about whether your teen’s behavior is suicidal, contact a mental health professional immediately.
Westchester County provides The Crisis Prevention and Response Team located at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Harrison. They are able to come to homes, schools, and other locations, and they provide 24 hr. phone consultation and referral. Their number is 914-925-5959.
The district also has the following trained professionals who are able to speak with you by phone or in person and/or meet with your teen at school: