’13 Reasons Why’: Utah school district warns parents to be aware of Netflix series about suicide

Posted at 6:19 PM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 10:32:36-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- School districts in Utah are warning parents about a new Netflix series that may romanticize suicide.

'13 Reasons Why' debuted on Netflix on March 31st, and the popular series, which chronicles a teen's choice to take her own life, has many parents and teachers worried about vulnerable students.

As the PTA Director for the Jordan School District, Dawn Ramsey has been getting a lot of calls from parents concerned about the show.

"Have you heard of this? Are your kids watching it? Have you seen it? If not, you should," Ramsey said of those calls.

Each episode features an audio recording that a teen leaves behind for her classmates and friends explaining why she decided to end her life.

"For youth who are vulnerable, who are depressed, who are having concerning thoughts: this can sensationalize that," Ramsey said.

Jordan School District's Counseling Program Specialist, Jamie Vargas, is arming counselors with talking points and ways to discuss the show with students and concerned parents.

"In Utah, unfortunately our suicide rates, especially among adolescents, are very high. They are some of the highest in the nation," Vargas said.

Vargas says, first of all, find out if your child is watching the show and watch it with them if you can. Most importantly, Vargas says you should talk about the show with your kids and don't be afraid of the stigma.

"I think there’s a myth that if you mention it or bring it up in a conversation with a child, that it’s going to put the idea in their head and I don’t think that’s the case," Vargas said.

Even though it highlights a difficult topic, Vargas doesn't necessarily think that your kids shouldn't be watching it .

"I don’t think its inherently dangerous to have a show like this as long as the proper supports are in place for those individuals that are watching it," Vargas said.

Just make sure as a parent, you're aware if they are.

"If your kids are watching this or even if you think they aren’t, this is an important conversation to have," Ramsey said. "Be aware, and, if they are watching it, parents should watch it."

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK. Utahns can also visit Hope4Utah and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center online for additional resources.