Warren County school district warns families about Netflix series

This image released by Netflix shows Katherine Langford in a scene from the series, “13 Reasons Why, ” about a teenager who commits suicide. The stomach-turning suicide scene has triggered criticism from some mental health advocates that it romanticizes suicide and even promoted many schools across the country to send warning letters to parents and guardians. The show’s creators are unapologetic, saying their frank depiction of teen life needs to be “unflinching and raw.” (Beth Dubber/Netflix via AP)

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This image released by Netflix shows Katherine Langford in a scene from the series, “13 Reasons Why, ” about a teenager who commits suicide. The stomach-turning suicide scene has triggered criticism from some mental health advocates that it romanticizes suicide and even promoted many schools across the country to send warning letters to parents and guardians. The show’s creators are unapologetic, saying their frank depiction of teen life needs to be “unflinching and raw.” (Beth Dubber/Netflix via AP)

Mason City Schools is warning parents that the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” may do more harm than good for students battling depression or suicidal thoughts.

“The overriding concern is that it could be triggering for those who are already struggling, as well as for those who are supporting their friend(s),” an email to parents from Tracey Carson, district spokeswoman, said. “According to some behavioral health experts, this series could do more harm than good — especially for youth who may be isolated, struggling, or vulnerable to suggestive images and story lines.”

The Netflix series — based off Jay Asher’s 2007 novel and produced by Selena Gomez — follows the aftermath of a teen girl’s suicide; Hannah Baker leaves seven double-sided tapes for several classmates, telling them they contributed to her decision to kill herself, and walks them through the weeks leading up to her death.

Explore MASON TEEN’S SUICIDE: A mother’s battle and warning

The suicide scene in the series has triggered criticism from some mental health advocates that it romanticizes suicide.

The show is highly dangerous for people already considering suicide, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. Professionals also noted the risk for a “contagion effect,” a phenomenon studied by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for decades.

The show’s creators are unapologetic, saying their frank depiction of teen life needs to be “unflinching and raw.”

Carson sent two links, one from the Jed Foundation and one from Nationwide Children's, meant to help parents discuss the series with their children. She admitted that some students have already watched the entire series.

“We hope this information provides an opportunity to remind your children about the importance of seeking support from you and from other caring adults in their lives when they are feeling overwhelmed,” Carson said.

The note from Carson also included warnings signs and ways to respond to a student who gives signs that they may be considering suicide.

Carson sent the link for Mason's Safe Schools tip line and the phone number for Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center's Psychiatric Intake Response Center: 513-636-4124.

This article contains reporting from Journal-News media partner WCPO and the Associated Press.

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TEEN SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS

Behavioral Warning Signs

• Being depressed

• Changes in appetite/weight

• Changes in behavior

• Changes in school performance

• Helplessness/hopelessness

• Loss of energy

• Loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities

• Giving away cherished possessions

• Morbid ideation

• Substance use

• Withdrawn/isolated

Verbal Warning Signs

• “I am going to kill myself.”

• “I want to die.”

• “I can’t stand living anymore.”

• “Don’t worry about me. I won’t be around much longer.”

• “I don’t want to be a burden anymore.”

• “I’ve had it. I don’t want to bother anyone with my troubles anymore.”

• “My family would be better off without me.”

• “I’ve had enough. I am ending it all.”

Stressful Life Events

• Changes in close relationships

• Recent disappointments (e.g., receiving a poor grade or not making a sports team)

• Recent losses (e.g., death of a loved one)

• Serious illness or the belief that one is seriously ill.

(Source: Keith King and Rebecca Vidourek, The Prevention Researcher magazine)


“13 Reasons Why” is based on teen’s suicide.