A timetable of suicides allegedly linked to the hit Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’
‘I think Bella would still be alive if she hadn’t watched it’
by Jin Hyun
The popular Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” has been surrounded by controversy since it aired on March 31, 2017. The show, which dramatizes the suicide of a young girl, has been championed by some as the first mainstream series to bring attention to youth suicide. The show is based on a young adult novel by Jay Asher, and is produced by former Disney star, Selena Gomez.
In April, suicide prevention expert Dan Reidenberg warned the series does “more harm than good.”
Here we’ve created a timeline of reported suicides and attempts that are believed to have been catalyzed by it.
When you’re reading this, remember suicide is complicated and is usually linked to an array of issues. Suicide experts do not like to simplify deaths by suicide by pointing fingers to single factors. We are reporting comments of those close to the victims.
*In some cases names have been omitted for privacy reasons
April 18, 2017: Bella Herndon, 15, Livermore, CA
Bella died by suicide nearly immediately after binge-watching the show. Her parents believe the series was a big trigger for their daughter and have attempted to get in contact with Netflix.
“I think Bella would still be alive if she hadn’t watched this show,” her father, John, said.
“It’s chilling to me that Selena Gomez, who worked with Disney making movies that families watched, steered her fan base to this. Someone has to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong.’”
John claims he has tried calling Netflix six times but “they hung up on me once and never returned any of my calls.”
She was three days short of her 16th birthday.
April 22, 2017: Priscilla Chiu, 15, San Mateo, CA
Following her death, her uncle, whom she lived with, said, “I feel it’s dangerous for that small percentage of young adults who the show could become a trigger for.
“I feel as if the show give only one alternative, and that one alternative is suicide.”
April 28, 2017: Sophomore, Winterset, IA
When this student took their life following the rise of “13 Reasons why,” the school issued a warning to parents about the harmful nature of the series. They recommended parents talk to their children about the show.
“Students are watching a Netflix series called “13 Reasons Why,” the email read, “Even if your child is not watching the show, they may be hearing about it from their peers.”
May 2017: 7 students, Mesa County, Denver, CO
May 22, 2017: 2 girls, 12, Bad Ischl, Austria
These two girls told their teacher they would be absent from class during the afternoon, and gave him what they claimed was a letter giving them time off school.
Luckily the teacher sensed something was wrong and opened the letter to find it was a suicide note. He found them in the school bathroom before it was too late.
June, 2017: Franco Alonso Lazo, 23, Peru
Lazo jumped from the fourth floor of his apartment, leaving behind recordings stating the reasons that drove him to kill himself, in the same fashion as the tapes from the Netflix TV series. This is believed to be the first copycat incident.
What Gomez describes as an honest portrayal of teen suicide has been heavily criticized by parents, teachers, and suicide prevention experts alike for its graphic content. Since, we’ve seen this list growing, proving the show may be more triggering for youth than we originally thought.