By Mayleen Hernandez
The popular hit Netflix original “13 Reasons Why”, based on the book by Jay Asher, premiered March 31. After the series debuted, calls to a North Carolina hotline jumped.
An online report by Reid Nakamura stated that a Raleigh hotline received 618 calls in March and more than 1,000 in April. Many people feel that the show is too graphic for kids and say that parents should be checking what their kids watch.
Principal David Samore recently instructed Okeeheelee’s teachers not to show students episodes, saying the show isn’t appropriate for middle schoolers.
Katherine Gonzales, a sixth-grader at Okeeheelee, wasn’t happy about the situation. “It’s like my favorite show, but I was already on the last episode, so I wasn’t too mad,”she said.
Randy Baker, also a sixth-grader, said, “I was kinda surprised because it doesn’t seem like “13 Reasons Why“ is a bad show.”
However, some say the show triggers kids into thinking suicide is a possible option for them. Robert Avossa, superintendent of Palm Beach County schools, sent out an email to parents on April 28 warning them of the show’s mature content, including a scene where Katherine Langford, who plays Hannah Baker, commits suicide. The show is supposed to show the effects of bullying and sexual assault.
Avossa’s email says, “As a father of a teenager and tween, I am very concerned about a dangerous trend we have observed in our schools in recent days. School District Personnel have observed an increase in youth at-risk behavior at the elementary and middle school levels to include self-mutilation, threats of suicide and multiple Baker Act incidents.”
Baker Acts refer to the temporary placement of a person who is a threat to him or herself or others into a facility for care. Several school districts have noticed that a number of teens have made acts or threats of self harm, which may have been inspired at least in part by the series.
Netflix says that it knew the material was sensitive, and it worked with “mental health experts to show how these issues impact teens in real and dramatic ways. With this in mind, it gave the series a TV-MA rating, added explicit warnings on the three most graphic episodes, and produced an after show, “Beyond the Reasons,” that delves deeper into the tougher topics, Netflix said.
It also created a website (13reasonswhy.info) to help people find local mental health resources. “Entertainment has always been the ultimate connector, and we hope that 13 Reasons Why can serve as a catalyst for conversation,” the company said.