13 Reasons Why

Mom says class discussion on Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” contributed to her young son’s agonizing suicidal thoughts

An unnamed Florida woman is saying a popular Netflix show that centers around teen suicide contributed to her son’s mental health issues and his own thoughts about taking his life.

News 4 Jax reports that a woman in Clay County, Florida, who doesn’t want her name public, said that her son’s teacher at Clay High School recommended the Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, which deals with teens trying to come to grips with a fellow classmate’s suicide. The mom claimed that the show “glorified suicide” which reportedly influenced her son into thinking about taking his own life. Although the show has clear warnings before the show starts, the boy’s mom said that the warning wasn’t enough.

“I was told that one of the teachers was discussing the series in class, and, basically, said I think it’s a pretty good show you guys should check it out. I would never have let my son watch that, especially alone.”

Three days after watching the show, the teen boy was taken to a mental health facility for a psychiatric evaluation. His mother said he was “self harming” and that he made a list of “13 reasons why” he was hurting himself and having suicidal thoughts.

“When I went to talk to the school about it after he was released from the MHRC (mental health resource center), I had written notes that he had made. He was creating a 13 reasons why list and told us that he, at that point, was having thoughts of suicide — that he didn’t want to live.”

The school district, when asked about the show, said that the student himself brought up 13 Reasons Why, not the teacher. The district also claimed that those types of shows are not part of the curriculum.

It’s unclear what steps the mom plans to take next for her son, but she said she’s not sure if she’ll let him go back to Clay High School.

The show 13 Reasons Why follows the aftermath of what happened when a teen girl, Hannah, killed herself after a series of bullying issues and other problems at school. Hannah blamed 13 students for her suicide, and before she died, she made a cassette tape for each student, detailing how and why each one played a part in her decision to slit her wrists.

Although the show has drawn criticism over how it handled sensitive issues such as suicide, it’s also been met with a lot of positive responses. The popular Netflix series was adapted from the book, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” written by Jay Asher in 2007.

A second season of 13 Reasons Why is likely on the way, and Selena Gomez, executive producer of the first series, will possibly move from behind the scenes and take on a role in the second installment.

Meanwhile, seven students recently killed themselves in Colorado, prompting the Mesa County Valley School District to pull all of its “13 Reasons Why” books from the library shelves. Some librarians called the removal “censorship,” but officials explained that the books will only be out circulation briefly.

Earlier this month, Netflix added additional “trigger warnings” to the show. A statement was released on May 1, outlining the reasons behind the additional warnings.

“There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about our series 13 Reasons Why. While many of our members find the show to be a valuable driver for starting important conversation with their families, we have also heard concern from those who feel the series should carry additional advisories. Currently the episodes that carry graphic content are identified as such and the series overall carries a TV-MA rating. Moving forward, we will add an additional viewer warning card before the first episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series and have also strengthened the messaging and resource language in the existing cards for episodes that contain graphic subject matter, including the URL 13ReasonsWhy.info — a global resource center that provides information about professional organizations that support help around the serious matters addressed in the show.”

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. 

[Feature Photo: AP/Ross D. Franklin]