Austin schools want parents to know the warning signs of suicide for the next season of ’13 Reasons Why’

On Friday, Netflix released the second season of “13 Reasons Why,” the show based on the book by Jay Asher, that is a suicide letter to people in a teen’s life after her suicide.

I got this letter from my daughter’s middle school counseling team:

“13 Reasons Why” (Beth Dubber/Netflix)

Even if your children are not watching the show, they may be hearing about it from their peers. Counselors and administrators are addressing concerns as they are brought to our attention. We take every report we receive seriously.

RELATED: Is your preteen, teen suicidal? Some hard facts about kids and mental health

Schools have an important role in preventing youth suicide, and being aware of potential risk factors is vital. We would like to ask you to partner with AISD to help students in need. You can make a world of difference by following these three simple steps:

Know the warning signs of suicidal ideation:

  • Talking or joking about suicide.
  • Seeking out weapons, pills or other ways to die.
  • Making statements about feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless.
  • Writing social media posts about death, dying or suicide.
  • Giving away prized possessions.
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for good.
  • Changes in behavior can also be a warning sign:
    • Changes in school attendance or grades.
    • Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
    • Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs.
    • Change in friendships, or withdrawing from friends and social activities.
    • Mood swings or personality changes.
    • Loss of interest in activities.
    • Bullying (both the victim of bullying and the bully are at risk.)

Talk to your children:

  • Let your children know you care.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your children if they have or are thinking about suicide.

Seek help:

RELATED: Dell Children’s opens new 24-unit mental health unit Monday

I would also add these statistics given to us by Karen Ranus, the executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness Austin:

  • One in five kids ages 13-18 in the U.S. experiences a mental health condition in any given year; only 50 percent of them actually receive services.
  • Fifty percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24.
  • About 50 percent of children in the state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental health condition.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 10-24 year olds.
  • Although 50 percent of individuals began experiencing symptoms by age 14, the average delay between onset of symptoms and receiving treatment is eight to 10 years.

Ranus gave us these resources:

  • Teens, who we all know love to text, not talk, can also text START to 741-741, which is the Crisis Text Line,

Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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