Lewiston and Auburn school departments have sent a letter to parents advising them of the controversial Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” and providing contact information for community mental health agencies in case parents are worried their children could be at risk of suicide.

In Auburn, the letter was sent home with students in kindergarten through grade 8 at the end of the week. Parents of high school students received a robo-call from the School Department advising them that the letter had been posted on the school system’s website.

In Lewiston, the letter was sent home with students in grades 7 through 12 on Friday.

“Sometimes our kids are watching things we’re not aware of and there was enough of a buzz in the hallway here to think that kids would be motivated this weekend to maybe try to go watch it,” said Jake Langlais, principal of Lewiston Middle School. “Not knowing what that might trigger for kids, if people notice a difference in their kids’ behaviors, they have resources.”

The 13-episode “13 Reasons Why” is based on a 2007 novel by Jay Asher. It focuses on a high school student who kills herself and leaves behind 13 audiotapes for 13 people, detailing the events that led to her death.

Media critics have praised the show, but school leaders and mental health and suicide prevention experts in Maine and nationally have raised concerns about it, saying the suicide scene is too graphic, it provides a too-little role for the parents and it depicts suicide as revenge.

They say the show could lead teens to more seriously consider suicide if they’re already depressed or have a history of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

Other Maine schools have recently sent home letters about the show, including the Oxford Hills School District in Paris.


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