Experts urge caution in letting teens watch Netflix's ‘13 Reasons Why'

by: Heather Hegedus, Fox25Boston.com Updated:

A new TV series is popular with teenagers, but it's causing some parents and teachers to voice their concerns.

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Now a national organization of psychologists is warning parents about letting their children watch it.

Netflix’s new show, “13 Reasons Why," is about a teenage girl who kills herself and leaves behind 13 tapes about why she did it.

The story hits close to home for a group of educators in Lexington, Massachusetts who have dealt with two student suicides in just the past year.

The National Association of School Psychologists says vulnerable youth should not watch the show, as it may romanticize suicide.

Lexington's superintendent agrees.

Christian Navarro, Robert Gant, Derek Luke, Keiko Agena, Selena Gomez, Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Amy Hargreaves, Miles Heizer, Devin Druid Tommy Dorfman, Michele Selene Ang, Brandon Larracuente and Ross Butler attend the Premiere.
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan/Getty

“Nowhere in this movie does it talk about the resources,” Dr. Mary Czajkowski told WFXT. “It's tragic to our students, to our families, to our community.”

Czjakowski says parents have voiced their concerns to her over the series and she has prepared school counselors to answer students' questions. She also said she plans on talking to students about it when she meets with them this week.

“You know, I think of the student -- a troubled student -- who is watching this that is alone. And no one is with them and they're watching this. What is going through their head?” she said.

Dr. Czajkowski says the show misses an opportunity to offer experts at the end of every episode and resources for teens who are contemplating suicide. She says it lacks context.

It's sparking a national conversation about how to best address the topic of suicide.

“I was glad to see suicide being addressed in such a public way and an open and honest way,” said Boston-based peer counselor Megan Wiechnik. “It's important to hear other people's perspectives and to know that we're not alone and to know there are interventions that can work.”

The National Association of School Psychologists has also issued some recommendations for families. They say parents should ask children if they've seen or heard of the series. Don't encourage them to watch it, they say, but if they do want to watch it, offer to watch it with them and then discuss their thoughts about it with them afterwards.

You can find resources for those struggling with suicidal thoughts below:

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#

http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/massachusetts-suicide-hotlines.html

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