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Schools Are Now Sending Notices to Parents After Release of Popular New Netflix Series…

A new Netflix series has been causing a stir in schools throughout the nation. Many schools are worried that students may begin imitating the show “13 Reasons Why” and have sent warning letters out to parents.

The 13-episode series, which is produced by Selena Gomez and is based on author Jay Asher’s 2007 young adult book, focuses on teen suicide.

Centering around main character, Hannah Baker, the show portrays the recordings she leaves behind for each of the 13 people who played a part in her decision to kill herself. bullying and sexual assault are common themes in the show.

Critics of “13 Reasons Why” argue that the show could have an impact on teens struggling with depression  or contemplating suicide, as many perceive the show as glamorizing suicide.

Schools warn parents of the series oversimplifying suicide and romanticizing Hannah’s death. There are also fears that the themes of suicide, bullying, and rape could trigger someone struggling with ending their own life.

Alexa Curtis, the founder of the nonprofit Media Impact and Navigation for Teens program, explained to Rolling Stone:

For teens who are battling mental health issues, witnessing the end of a life as easily as the show portrayed it could help desensitize kids to this very serious matter.

Curtis pointed out that a counselor brushed off the main character’s plea for help:

Before the suicide, Hannah admits to a counselor that she is feeling lost and empty — clear signals of depression. As she talks about her sadness and anger, instead of being admitted to a clinic, the distracted employee simply gives her a box of tissues to heal her wounds.

Curtis suggested a positive moment could have come from that scene.

She said:

Had “13 Reasons Why” showcased other forms of outreach, like therapy, teens watching it might realize that there is always an option that doesn’t include self-harm.

As Fox 4 KC reports, Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kansas, posted a message on its Facebook page letting parents know about its concern over students watching the show.

According to CBS News, Montgomery County School District in Maryland also sent out a warning to parents. Dr. Christina Conolly stated in a letter:

Adolescents watching without an adult … could be at increased risk of self-harm. Watching a suicide or knowing someone who has died by suicide can lead others to completing a suicide themselves.

According to ABC6, Netflix responded to the concerns in a statement:

We’ve heard from our members that “13 Reasons Why” has opened up a dialogue among parents, teens, schools and mental health advocates around the intense themes and difficult topics depicted in the show. We knew the material covered sensitive topics, as the book did when it was published in 2007, and we worked with mental health experts to show how these issues impact teens in real and dramatic ways. With this in mind, we gave the series a TV-MA rating, added explicit warnings on the three most graphic episodes.

Some parents appreciate the warning, while others don’t believe it is necessary. One argument for the show is that parents and teens watching together opens up communication about teen suicide.

So what should parents do? Shawnee Mission South High School counselors recommended the following tips for parents:

-Check it out yourself, watch an episode to be aware of the issues

-Take the time to have conversations about the content, possibly watch it together

As Curtis shared with Rolling Stone, thousands of teens are affected by suicide each year:

Teen suicide is still the second leading cause of death for teens — over 5,000 kids attempt it every day in America.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately. Go to a hospital, call 911, or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

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