Netflix should be sending message of resilience not hopelessness to our kids

It’s disturbing to hear that searches about suicide appear to have increased significantly as a result of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. And since when searches rise, suicide rates typically do as well, researchers believe the number of teenagers taking their own lives increased because of the show.

Despite the data, the show is still available on Netflix and a second season is currently being produced. Is that irresponsible? Are the stats a reason to take the program off the air?

It might seem like a drastic reaction, especially given that we can’t actually prove a link between the show and any actual suicide. But the producers of the show could do more, or to put it another way, they could have done less.

The World Health Organization recommends against the portrayal of actual suicides, but 13 Reasons Why culminates with a teenager slitting her wrists. In the minds of teenagers, that may glorify the act.

We’ve had this debate before, about books and rock music, and I’m loathe to support any effort to ban culture, especially on tenuous evidence. But the message we should be sending to children is one of resilience. Even if you are bullied or despondent, you should always seek help and choose life.

There are zero reasons why, not 13.

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