Health experts: Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” is ‘damaging’ and ‘dangerous’

Health News

It’s a controversial Netflix series now in its second season that deals with sensitive issues like rape and suicide.

Local doctors call it damaging and dangerous, and have 13 reasons why not to watch it.

“Thirteen Reasons Why” is a popular show with a growing fan base. It’s a series about a teenager who commits suicide but still impacts the lives of those who knew her — and its dark themes have many concerned.

UNM mental health experts say the show is violent, and that violence is showing up in the real world and affecting vulnerable youth.

“Teens don’t need this added, very provocative and unfortunately relatively compelling show as another stressor or another reason to make unhealthy choices,” said Doctor Shawn Sidhu, who is the training director for UNM Children’s Psychiatric Program.

Dr. Sidhu says the show glamorizes suicide and promotes violence in school to solve problems. It’s also a potential trigger for at-risk kids facing bullying and other struggles.

Experts say there was a 26 percent spike in Google searching ‘how to commit suicide’ after season one. There were also more suicide related emergency room visits.

“This show can sort of act like adding gasoline to the fire,” said Dr. Sidhu.

He says it’s misleading for kids to think they live on in the lives of everyone they knew after suicide.

That is alarming for parents too. 

“My grandson was talking about his little sister watches it, so I am concerned, especially if it’s leading youngsters to suicide,” said grandparent Frank Chavez.

Nevertheless, evidence shows monitoring your kids’ social media and checking in with them — even talking about suicide — will help.

“What we know about New Mexico is 20 percent of high schoolers and 30 percent of middle schoolers say they’ve had suicidal thoughts,” said Dr. Sidhu.

Yet, some parents say the show is not to blame.

“It’s your responsibility to know where your children are, what they’re watching, and if it’s age appropriate,” said parent Ana Bress.

Dr. Sidhu says he asks his patients if they watch the show, and recommends parents do the same. Studies show about 80 percent of kids who get proper help for suicidal thoughts will improve.

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