Important Information and Resources for Counselors in Response to New Series on Suicide, Sexual Assault, and Bullying

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I'm writing to make you aware of a new series released on March 31, 2017, on Netflix titled, “13 Reasons Why.” The premise behind this series is a high school girl kills herself and leaves behind cassette tapes of the 13 reasons why she killed herself. Each of the reasons is actually a person who she believes wronged her in some way.


The series contains 13 episodes and an epilogue with this series. In each episode, the girl who killed herself narrates the episode through the cassette tapes she has left behind. Her request is for each of the people who are the “reasons” why she killed herself to listen to the tapes and then pass them onto the next person.


There are many serious themes discussed in this series and many graphic portrayals of these themes. Some of those include:

  • Suicide (main character slits her wrists in a bathtub)
  • Rape of an intoxicated and unconscious girl at a party
  • Violent rape of the main character
  • Self-injury (character says she does it “so I won’t kill myself”)
  • Drug and alcohol use and abuse by many characters
  • Gun violence
  • Fatal car wreck involving drunk driving
  • Fighting at school
  • Bullying
  • Gender based violence and discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sex
  • Law breaking
  • Profanity


In the final episode, the girl who kills herself sees her school counselor because she is “giving life one more chance.” She confides in him that she wants life to be done. She also indicates that she was sexually assaulted at a party. In the episode, the counselor does not ask her if she is thinking of suicide. Additionally, he tells her that if she won’t name the person who raped her (which she will not), then her only option is to “move on.”


The character leaves the counselor’s office, hoping he will follow her, but he does not. She then says the school counselor is the 13th reason why she killed herself. The character then goes home and kills herself by getting into the bathtub and slitting her wrists.


A few of the episodes have warnings at the beginning of the episodes notifying viewers that some scenes may be found to be disturbing. A suicide hotline number and other resources are provided in the epilogue. The epilogue refers to a 13 Reasons Why web site, which has some resources, including 13 Reasons Why Talking Points.


Since many teens are watching the series, we felt it was necessary to provide you with information about the series and to give you some guidelines on responding to the serious issues addressed in the series.


We are attaching Crisis Response Protocols, which outline how to respond in several crisis situations, including:

  • What to do if a student reports he/she is being abused, or if someone suspects abuse;
  • What to do if a student reports he/she has been sexually assaulted or has been involved in teen dating violence;
  • What to do if a student reports he/she is suicidal or self injuring;
  • What to do if a student reports he/she knows someone who is suicidal or self injuring.


Additionally, we work closely with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse services on suicide prevention and other mental health concerns. ODMHSAS has many free suicide prevention resources, including free curriculum for students. They also offer free trainings for adults to recognize signs of suicidal ideation and other mental illnesses.


We are attaching Prevention Resources with contacts and resources you can use at any time, but I wanted to send them to you now because they are especially relevant to this series.


We are attaching a Suicide Information Sheet for counselors (and other educators). I thought it was important for you to have this timely information.


Remember that we have an online “Crisis Kit for Counselors” with many helpful documents.


Crisis Kit for Counselors


Finally, remember that we have many webinars already archived on these topics at our counselor training page at: . Here are the sessions we have archived:


If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us here at the OSDE any time. The best way to reach us is through email since we travel to schools often.




Michelle Sutherlin
Director of Prevention Services


Shelly Ellis
Executive Director of Counseling