Netflix drama has parents & educators concerned

May 4, 2017

A stunning new Netflix series called "13 Reasons Why" has parents and schools concerned.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says some believe the content is harsh and "glamorizes" suicide.   

“13 Reasons Why” is a web-television series promoted as a mystery with very mature content. The story is based on a book Thirteen Reasons Why, authored ten years ago by Jay Asher.   It portrays a high school student who committed suicide because of being bullied, a victim of sexual assault and substance abuse.     

13 Reasons Why, Netflix series trailer.
Credit Photo from Netflix series trailer, 13 Reasons Why

She leaves behind cassette tape recordings for her classmates with details of why she took her own life. 

She leaves behind cassette tape recordings for her classmates with details of why she took her own life.
Credit Photo from Netflix series trailer, 13 Reasons Why

“The content is tough. It’s heavy. There’s no doubt about it,” said Adrienne Romanowicz, Buffalo school parent.

Romanowicz tells us she was surprised to learn about the Netflix series from her 14-year-old daughter, a freshman at City Honors. She also has a fourth grader at Tapestry Charter School. But Tapestry informed the school community that students as young as fourth grade have been watching the series. 

“That it is important content because it opens up a dialog and at an appropriate age, I think that it is excellent. My 14-year-old and I have talked about the sensitive subject matter that is depicted in the show and you know we also did talk about the fact that it does seem very sort of glamorized. My younger daughter – I’m not even bringing the show up – it’s just so inappropriate and I think that parents really need to be aware of what’s going on,” remarked Romanowicz.

Netflix said it will be adding a warning to the series. It’s been highly criticized by many mental health care providers have been critical of the series for its failure to provide information on where to seek help.

She leaves behind cassette tape recordings for her classmates with details of why she took her own life.
Credit Photo from Netflix series trailer, 13 Reasons Why

“We’re concerned about is the safety and the safe messaging that was really lacking as part of the series,” explained Jessica Pirro, CEO of Crisis Services.

The organization provides immediate assistance to individuals and works work directly with schools.

“So we have actually seen a steady increase to our hotline around suicide related calls, but we see that as success. We see people reaching out – we see that there’s strength in those numbers,” Pirro replied.

There are national talking points posted on-line by some organizations called “13-Reasons Why” it is "fictional'.  We also spoke with Sue Ventresca, director of Health Related Services in the Buffalo Public School District, who is working to distribute the talking points.

“And we sent it out to our health professionals – our school nurses, our counselors, our physiologists so everybody could be aware of it. I will be sending it out to our parent groups – you know the taking points – because I think it can be helpful for anyone,” Ventresca stated.  

For those seeking help, Crisis Services hotline: 716-834-3131 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides help to those in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, call 1-800-273-8255.