Families who blame Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’ for teen suicides want show cancelled

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 07: Actors Dylan Minnette (L) and Katherine Langford with the cast of ’13 Reasons Why’ speak onstage during the 2017 MTV Movie And TV Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on May 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The families of two teens who died by suicide after watching the controversial show, 13 Reasons Why, want Netflix to cancel Season 2 of the series.

John Herndon, father of Bella Herndon, 15, one of two California teens who took her own life after watching 13 Reasons Why told In Touch magazine, the “destructive” show was responsible for his daughter’s death on April 18.

Herndon and his wife, Donna, discovered Bella, in her bedroom closet after she had hanged herself. She died at the hospital 10 days later, never regaining consciousness.

Read more: AJC Get Schooled: Should kids be watching new Netflix series on teen suicide?

Herndon said his daughter had binge-watched the series about 16-year-old Hannah Baker who leaves her friends 13 cassette tapes explaining why she killed herself. The show is executive produced by Selena Gomez and is shot mostly in the Bay Area.

Another teen, 15-year-old Priscilla Chiu hanged herself on April 22. Relatives have said they believe the show was a trigger for her suicide.

The show has caused its share of controversy locally with educators in many school districts throughout the metro area issuing warnings.

After first airing the show in March, Netflix added a content warning in May in response to criticism from parents and mental health advocacy groups. Production on Season 2 began earlier this month.

Herndon said his phone calls have been ignored by Netflix. Herndon and Priscilla Chiu’s uncle, Peter Chiu, spoke out to Bay Area television station KTVU for the first time earlier this week about their concerns.

“I feel it is dangerous for that small percentage of young adults who the show could become a trigger for them. And I feel as if the show gives only one alternative,” said Peter Chiu.

Read more: Life with Gracie: Flipside of ‘13 Reasons Why’: Grady program helps women choose to live

In response to KTVU’s story, Netflix issued a statement saying, “We have heard from many viewers that 13 Reasons Why has opened up a dialogue among parents, teens, schools and mental health advocates around the difficult topics depicted in the show. We took extra precautions to alert viewers to the nature of the content and created a global website to help people find local mental health resources.”

Read more: Answers elusive as youth suicides in Georgia rise sharply

But that isn’t enough for Herndon.

“I think Bella would [still be alive if she hadn’t watched this show]. It’s chilling to me that Selena Gomez, who worked with Disney making movies that families watched, steered her fan base to this,” he said to In Touch, adding, “Someone has to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong.’”

Reader Comments 0

12 comments
RealisticCinnic97
RealisticCinnic97

The the parents are morons, I know plenty of people that watched the show that did not kill themselves. Oh right because they decided to make the show into something positive and to think about. The whole point of the series is to show how damaging your actions can be on both sides of the table being the bully or the victim. So these parents can get bent! They are idiots! Not sorry for a loss that could have been easily been prevent if there was proper care and parenting for these children.

Bentley6272016
Bentley6272016

It is sad to hear about these two teenagers and condolences to their family...But I don't think the Netflix show triggered them to commit suicide themselves...I believe the teens already had issues and was on the verge of committing suicide before watching the show...The parents are in denial and what parent wouldn't...No parent wants to think that their own teenager has issues or would think about committing suicide but there're out there...suicide is not talked about enough or expressed and it needs to be so the one's that are thinking about it can, know that they are not alone and can get help...The Netflix is an eye opener for all teenagers and including parents about now a days at school and how harsh kids are...So when you see a change in your child or the child complains to you about stuff at school, don't ignore it...Or your the reason why they committed suicide because you didn't take them serious...bullying is a big issue in todays society, please listen to your children when they speak up or change drastically...Just because Selena Gomez is a producer doesn't mean she is changing her fan base...Yes she was with Disney but people change just like any other human beings...Doesn't mean she changed for bad but she also isn't a child anymore as Disney is in her past...Wake up everyone and stop being in denial because it starts with the people that are closest to the person committing suicide.

MrDeadman
MrDeadman

The newest media blame target.  D&D in the 80's.  Video games in the 90's.  This, as Dr. Joyce Brothers once put it, "is a scapegoat for the inadiquacies of mom and dads ability to be parents."

Mikey Owen
Mikey Owen

As a parent, this is the worst thing I could possibly live through. That being said, if you watch the series and conclude with the 1/2 hour documentary available about it on netflix, it should have had the opposite effect on these teens. They were already determined, sorry to say. The purpose of the series is to start a conversation and show how ugly real suicide is, and the regrets of might have been. The documentary will explain to you that a child's frontal lobe is not developed until well after the age of eighteen, so whatever happens to them feels like it's forever. These children had issues in their life that they did not feel they could talk to anyone about, and for their age, it was real to them that no one would listen or help. We need to start the conversation with our kids, along with drugs and alcohol. 

Kristen943
Kristen943

These children's suicides are tragic and truly heartbreaking, but I think society needs to stop putting so much blame on things like this TV show and take a look at their own parenting.  If the children weren't mature enough to be watching a show like this, the parents should not have allowed it.  (I get that it's hard to keep track of everything your kid does but you still have to take some accountability.)  Maybe if their child were interested in this show they could have watched it together and had a dialogue about it.  But to blame the show and call for its cancellation is absurd.


And honestly, I saw the show and I personally felt like it showed what a rash, selfish decision she made when there were so many other things she could have done.  I didn't feel like it glamourized suicide at all.  Quite the opposite honestly.

rorexu
rorexu

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MtSL
MtSL

I have not seen the series, but did read the book and listen to the audio book. They are challenging, and not "fun" reads, but useful for adults to read and understand what is going on in this time in the lives of not-yet-adult people. I can't see that the book anyway would lead anyone to take their life. It certainly does not glamorize suicide nor provide tools or ways to do it. The book did effectively blame several adults and bullies as well as not blame others. Unless the series takes dramatic license with the books, it should probably stay on.


I am sorry for the young people who saw no other way out but to end their lives and the families who are carrying on afterwards. It's tough being a kid nowdays, and there is nothing to sugar coat that. Rather seems to me to be an endurance contest for most of them rather than a pleasant journey. If the book and series provide a starting point for talking about this, then good. Let's find solutions for life and keep our eyes out for those we cross paths with for whom we are the reason they live another day and watch our words and actions so that they don't call it quits.

Terrie T. Borkowski
Terrie T. Borkowski

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jmo7470
jmo7470

I don't want to sound insensitive here, I recently lost someone very close to me (and very young) to suicide. I watched this show and did not think it glamorized suicide AT ALL. This made suicide seem like the most terrifying and worst decision one could make. I also do not think a show can be held accountable for the actions of anyone, and this is coming from someone who recently lost someone. I think the show made it very clear that suicide was not the answer. It addressed this SEVERAL times. They also did a great job of depicting what people go through and how your actions can have consequences on others. I believe the show emphasized more on how we should be treating people and not on suicide itself.

someonesdad
someonesdad

Don't let your kid watch the show.  I won't let mine.

Mikey Owen
Mikey Owen

@someonesdad That's your choice, but please have the conversation with them along with alcohol and drugs. Please, Please, Please.

realist304
realist304

IF true that these two fifteen-year-old girls would still be alive had they not watched this television show, one could easily argue that perhaps their parents shouldn't have allowed them Netflix access to watch it in the first-place.