As a new Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” grows in popularity, mental health professionals and schools across the country, including in Hawaii, are warning parents about the messages the show may be sending.
The show “13 Reasons Why” tells the story of a 17-year-old girl who commits suicide and leaves behind tapes for the 13 people she says contributed to her decision to kill herself.
The Hawaii Department of Education sent a letter home to parents on Tuesday to inform them about the nature of the series and the graphic elements that officials say are "inconsistent with messages that protect mental and emotional well-being, as well as content that is for mature audiences."
A letter was also sent to parents of Mid-Pacific Institute students on Monday, warning “that the series is for mature audiences and contains topics of sexual assault, underage drinking, depicts graphic images with extreme profanity, and may send an unintended message that suicide is an acceptable option to resolving depression, anxiety, bullying, or other life challenges.”
According to the Washington Post, a superintendent at a school in Palm Beach, Fla. has seen more threats of suicide as a result of the show.
Many across the country have also complained that the school counselor who brushes off the character’s pleas for help is sending a message that school mental professionals are not a trusted source for help.
The National Association of School Psychologists said it does not recommend that younger audiences, especially vulnerable youth, watch this series. It also advised parents to have thoughtful conversations with their children.
The show’s producers say they hope the series can help those who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide. Netflix also said the hope of the show was to open up a dialogue among parents, teens, schools and mental health advocates around the themes in the show.