“Settle in because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to this tape, you’re one of the reasons why.”
This is the hit Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why.”
The 13-episode web series follows a girl who commits suicide, after suffering a series of demoralizing circumstances brought on by her classmates.
The parents of 11-year-old CJ Reyes said they received a bulletin from their son’s school warning them about the show.
“Just kind of informing us like hey, if you see your kids watching this maybe you could be with them. Kind of giving us a heads up of what’s going on,” said mother Clarice Estantino.
Many schools across the country sent out similar warnings to parents, citing concerns over the content.
According to a new study in the journal Jama Internal Medicine, after the premiere of “13 Reasons Why,” the Google search phrase “how to commit suicide” rose 26 percent above its normal expectancy.
“Suicide prevention” also went up 23 percent, and “suicide hotline number” rose 12 percent.
“It’s absolutely natural to be curious about suicide,” says Sheila Rivera of the Filipino Mental Health Initiative in San Francisco. She says the popularity of the show has peaked curiosity around suicide.
“A lot of people don’t think about it. And the people who do they may not ever act on it. The problem always comes when someone is learning about it in isolation, and there’s no conversations around what happens, what feelings are around it.”
Rivera says that while the show has helped bring about suicide awareness, it missed an opportunity to offer education and support — and in turn, it sensationalizes suicide as a viable option.
“There’s a fantasy that people will understand if that once you die by suicide that all your problems will be understood.”
The show has already been renewed for a second season, and has reportedly already begun filming — to which Rivera disagrees.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to continue the show. It doesn’t make sense. If the whole idea of the message was to talk about suicide, what’s the purpose of the second season other than to continue the drama of what’s going on?”
Young CJ admits he knew about the show but not about the content.
“I would watch it but from time to time,” he said.
“If he had any questions, I’d encourage him to come to us and ask us instead of trying to find out on his own or learn from his friends,” said his father, Carl Reyes.
And as for the Reyes family, they say that when it comes to watching shows with such intense content that are popular among youngsters — keeping their child safe is the biggest “reason why” they’ll be watching together.