District cautions parents about suicidal themes in 2nd season of '13 Reasons Why'

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) – - A Netflix show that sparked conversation and some controversy in 2017 is back in the limelight with the second season debuting Friday, and one local school district is already issuing a warning to parents.

The Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" quickly became a popular show for teenagers around the country this past year. The first season of the series focused on suicide. One of the main characters, 17-year-old Hannah Baker, takes her own life and leaves behind 13 audio recordings detailing reasons why.

When the season debuted in March 2017, it spread in popularity among adolescents and at the same time ignited a firestorm of reactions from parents, educators, and mental health professionals, like Dr. Edward Connor.

"We estimate that about 25 percent of teenagers at some point will have suicidal thoughts, so it is something we need to pay attention to," said Connor, a Clinical Psychologist out of Erlanger, Ky.

Netflix even ended up adding a cautionary video at the start of the show, that includes the line: "We hope our show can start a conversation, but if you are struggling with these issues yourself, this series may not be right for you."

The second season launches on Netflix Friday, which has prompted the Hamilton City School District to issue a warning to parents.
"It's an absolutely good thing for them to be doing," Connor said. "I think it's the responsible thing to do."

Within the letter, district officials state they do not recommend that any "vulnerable youth" watch the show. The note also encourages parents to have conversations with their children about the series and about suicide.

"Don't automatically jump to conclusions that your child is interested in the show because they're having suicidal thoughts, but have an open line of communication," Connor said.

The message goes on to list signs that someone might be suicidal.

"Depression, social withdrawal, lack of sleep, or they start to give away prized possessions," Connor said.

Connor said that not everyone behaves the same way, so sometimes there are no warning signs, but catching the ones that do exist can be crucial and critical when it comes to saving a life. He said that based on his experience and expertise, the show could be detrimental to those who are already struggling, but he also believes "13 Reasons Why" is raising awareness on a topic that for many is taboo.

He said that is a good thing.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, there are resources available to help. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or you can text "START" to 741741. You can also chat with someone who can help via the hotline's website. To read more about suicide, including risk factors, warning signs and treatment options, visit the National Institute of Mental Health's website.

The entire statement from the Hamilton City School District is as follows:

'13 Reasons Why' Netflix Series, Season 2: Considerations

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