Experts discuss Netflix show dealing with teen suicide

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” premiered on Netflix in March and since then, viewers across the country have tuned in to watch as a high school girl explains why acts of bullying, mental illness and rape lead to her suicide.

Local suicide prevention experts differ on the show’s impact on teens.

“I don’t think it is negative,” said Jessica Barrow, director of Integrated Family Services. “If anything, it’s helping them realize, ‘Oh somebody else may be going through this too.’”

Barrow said suicidal teens may be able to find solace by watching the show

“Statistics show that talking about suicide or asking someone about suicide does not lead them to further think of suicide if they have never questioned it in the past,” Barrow said.

While the show openly depicts suicidal factors, it also depicts graphic rape and suicide scenes.

Real Crisis Center assistant director Tracy Kennedy said that can be a problem.

“You don’t erase that from your mind, that scene, I think that it can be damaging for some,” said Kennedy. “It can be what we call triggers.”

Kennedy said although she has concerns, the best first step in combating the problem is openly talking about it.

“My concern is that youth need to understand that there are places out there to help,” said Kennedy. “…Yes, suicide is a real thing, yes it is preventable, and yes there is help out there.”

There are disclaimers before each graphic episode.

Kennedy recommends parents talk with their child before letting them watch.

A bill about teaching educators how to promote suicide awareness was also given a favorable report by the House Education committee and can now be taken up in the full House.

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