The American Family Association is leading a petition campaign to get Netflix to pull a show from their service that they say glamorizes suicide, and inspired a young girl to take her own life.
The AFA is telling the story of the Bright family, whose 14-year-old daughter Anna modeled her suicide after the character portrayed in the Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why.’ The family was unaware that Anna binge-watched the show’s first season in an entire weekend. She became obsessed with it, according to her friends, and ended up killing herself weeks later.
The show’s depiction of suicide as a means of revenge has already faced wide criticism over the subject matter, and according to the Washington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association found a possible parallel between the show’s premiere and a spike in suicides.
Citing a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, The Washington Post reports “Internet searches about suicide were significantly higher than expected” within the three weeks after the release of 13RW.
The Post quotes the authors of the JAMA study: “Our analyses suggest 13 Reasons Why, in its present form, has both increased suicidal awareness while unintentionally increasing suicidal ideation. The most rising queries focused on suicidal ideation. For instance, ‘how to commit suicide,’ ‘commit suicide,’ and ‘how to kill yourself’ were all significantly higher.”
Overall, online suicide queries increased by 19% during the first 19 days after the release of 13RW. According to San Diego State University public health professor John Ayers, “Past studies have validated that Internet searches mirror real-world suicide rates, so suicide rates have likely gone up as a result of this program.”
The show’s trailer can be seen here.
The AFA details how the show depicts suicide as a means of revenge.
The first season of the series is based on a young adult novel written by Jay Asher. Both the novel and the series revolve around the suicide of teenager Hannah Baker who leaves behind 13 cassette tapes that blame 13 different people as the reasons she ended her life. The tapes are her means of revenge, her power over them after death.
Targeted at teens, the Netflix series is rated TV-MA for mature audiences only; it is full of gratuitous profane language, excessive drug and alcohol use by high school students, homosexuality, empty friendships, bullying and violence, graphic sex including two rape scenes – one likened to soft porn, and a full-on, raw, very real and gruesome three-minute depiction of a teenage girl committing suicide.
Many are concerned that the ease for teenagers to watch Netflix content, which can be watched on phones using an app, will only make it easier for impressionable, possibly depressed teens to see the series. A push to have Netflix remove the series has been ignored by the company.
The hugely popular Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, has become a lightning rod for critics who say it glorifies suicide and might even make it an attractive option for teenagers who are enduring difficult times in their lives.
Watch the heartbreaking video about Anna Bright, a 14-year-old who committed suicide after binge-watching 13 Reasons Why. Anna’s parents contacted the American Family Association, asking us to help get the word out about the dangers of 13 Reasons Why. They shared their story with our film division.
On March 25, I sent a private letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, respectfully asking for a short meeting to discuss our concerns. The letter was ignored.
Season 1 was hugely popular. While it was airing last year, the web site for Teen Vogue said the series was Netflix’s most popular show on social media. Netflix plans to release a second season soon.
Even the mainstream media has publicized the potential dangers of 13 Reasons Why, and some schools here in America and abroad have sent home letters to warn parents about the series.
Those dangers are very real. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among teenagers.
Asking Netflix to drop this dangerous television series is the right thing to do. Please sign this petition, then share it as a way to warn other friends, family, and church members about the dangers of 13 Reasons Why.
Here is video of Anna’s story.