Experts Express Concern Over Netflix Show

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Students are talking about the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" all across the country, and experts are warning parents that not all of those conversations are positive ones. 

The show is about a teenage girl, Hannah Baker, who took her own life and recorded the 13 reasons why she committed suicide on tapes, sent out to the people who contributed to her suicide. 

"13 Reasons really glamorizes and sensationalizes suicide in a way that's not really fictional," Scott Ridgway, executive director at Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, said.

With an average of 1,000 Tennesseans taking their lives by suicide every year, Ridgway knows it's an important topic, but he's not sure the series is helping. 

"We've lost in the U.S. 3 students to suicide just as they have portrayed the same story as Hannah has," Ridgway said. 

In Tennessee, many middle school and high school students are watching the series.

"It can be dangerous if there is no one there to process it with them," Frank Scott, director of Lipscomb University's Counseling Center, said, adding that if a student watches the series, they should either do it with an adult, or have an adult they can talk to about the issues confronted in the series. "They don't have the coping mechanisms yet, and that's what we learn growing up by the consequences of our actions. We see life and how to do it, how to do it well, what works, what doesn't work, they don't have that yet." 

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention network has encouraged schools to tell parents about the series and encourage them to talk to their children, and while that conversation could turn the series into a positive thing and even save lives, Ridgway thinks the show needs to go a step further by posting suicide hotline numbers at the end of each episode. 

"If it was done appropriately and not glorified and not glamorized, I think it could have been an education piece," Ridgway said. 

If you or anyone you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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