Netflix’s popular new series, 13 Reasons Why, may be popular with viewers, but it’s not sitting well with some school boards.
The series tells the story of teenage girl, Hannah Baker, who commits suicide and leaves 13 cassette tapes explaining why she took her own life, and how she feels some of her classmates were responsible.
Several school districts in B.C. have issued letters to parents and published notices online, warning students and parents that the show may not be suitable.
“The B.C. Ministry of Education and many mental health organizations are highlighting concerns and providing guidance to school communities and parents to be aware of the dangers and risks associated with children and young people who have been exposed to the series,” a letter from the Vancouver School Board said.
The Burnaby School District also sent out a letter asking parents to have a “check-in” conversation with their children around the issue of suicide.
“While the show is fictional, the series deals with some difficult issues, is extremely graphic (bullying and rape scenes), and has raised concerns about the safety of those watching it, particularly students who may already be emotionally vulnerable,” the letter said.
Critics claim the show glamorizes teen suicide.
Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson, has revealed she attempted suicide multiple times, and calls the show “extremely triggering.”
“This show is an amazing way to get the message across to bullies that they need to stop doing what they are doing… but at the same time, it is also an extremely triggering thing to watch,” Jackson wrote on Instagram this week. “Please only watch this show with caution and keep in mind that it may put you in a dark place. If you are struggling, please don’t watch it.”
The Centre for Suicide Prevention is concerned the series does not follow the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention’s media guidelines, which discourage reporting details of the method or offering simplistic reasons for the suicide.
“Dramatic portrayal of a suicide death glamorizes suicide, and may trigger those who are already struggling with suicidal thoughts. Suicide is not glamorous; it is an act carried out in complete and utter desperation as a result of acute suffering,” the centre said in a statement.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, there is help. Click the links below for local resources:
Call 1-800-SUICIDE if you are in distress or are worried about someone in distress who may hurt themselves.
—With files from Laurel Gregory