I was surprised at the position taken by some school boards to initiate a direction that students not be permitted to even discuss 13 Reasons Why within their schools. Suicide is a sensitive topic to discuss, but to silence a demographic within the school system, where suicide is one of the leading causes of death amongst its age group, is perilous and not well thought out.
We can debate the necessity of the graphic nature of the suicide depicted in the series finale. We can debate the merit of the exposed and non exposed character flaws of the respective characters. And we can debate the issue of who is to blame in this modern day Shakespearean tragedy. That I suspect,was the point and the intention of the show – to open up a dialogue on bullying and suicide.
Despite the controversy surrounding the series, it initiated a much needed dialogue about this very important topic and one that no one likes to discuss. But it has to be. The school authorities that wanted to shut down any discussion are simply wrong. We can not turn a blind eye to suicide. We can not be silent. It needs to be discussed. And given the explosion of technology and social media in today’s world, thinking that putting a muzzle on the topic in schools is going to reduce a potential risk is purely shortsighted. I volunteered on the suicide crisis line in this city under the Alternate Futures Society banner many years ago and followed up that experience with board involvement in Fort McMurray with Some Other Solutions for nine years.
Never was silence a preferred option or strategy. I’m encouraged by the proactive involvement of the Centre for Suicide Prevention who have devised a lesson plan to assist health and life skills teachers to deal specifically with suicide through the use of Jay Asher’s novel. To all your readers, I would encourage them to contact their local suicide prevention agencies and inquire about the program and how they can have it implemented in their schools.
Stafford T. Gorsalitz, Red Deer