Mason schools warning families that '13 Reasons Why' may do more harm than good

Posted at 10:30 AM, Apr 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-28 18:34:13-04

MASON, Ohio -- Mason City Schools issued a warning to parents that the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" may do more harm than good for students -- those battling depression or suicidal thoughts as well as students supporting friends who may be struggling.

"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.

Hannah's suicide is shown in the series, and the entire series sensationalizes her death, both of which make the show 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.

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, which can be read in the document embedded below.

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.

Note to Mason City Schools families regarding '13 Reasons Why' by Marais Jacon-Duffy on Scribd