By Tom Mustin
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A controversial new series about teen suicide is causing serious discussions among parents and students in Douglas County.
“A lot of people are talking about it on social media and at school,” Castle Rock student Dania Serrano told CBS4’s Tom Mustin.
“If I had my way, they never should have aired it,” said parent Jenny Renard.
The Netflix series ”13 Reasons Why” focuses on a teenage girl who commits suicide and leaves behind cassette tape messages to the 13 people who she says are responsible.
Renard has two daughters in Douglas County Schools. She says suicide has been an issue at her daughter’s high school, including an attempt last week. She says since the series went online March 31, the whole school is talking about it. She worried the show glamorizes the issue.
“All of them have watched it and they’re talking about it in the halls, so it’s done and you’re having to do damage control,” said Renard.
National statistics show teenage suicide rates are on the rise.
Serrano says “13 Reasons Why” may be too realistic for some viewers, “There’s ’a scene in the series where she cuts herself and it’s kind of graphic.”
The show is sparking conversations nationwide. Douglas County Schools sent out a newsletter when the series was released, informing parents to discuss the issue with their kids, and highlighting resources available for students.
“This is a heavy topic,” said DCSD Prevention and School Culture Coordinator Staci McCormack.
She says the district has proactively addressed teenage suicide. She believes the show, if nothing else, has prompted some tough but important conversations at home.
“As parents, as mentors, as coaches, we’re charged with sometimes having conversations that might be heavy content with our youth,” said McCormack.
And it’s a difficult conversation Renard is grudgingly already having, “The damage is done but at this point it opens up dialogue that we need to have and comment with our children.”
Screenwriter Brian Yorker told Entertainment Weekly “We did want it to be painful to watch because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing in any way worthwhile about suicide.”
Douglas County Schools has several resources counselors and Suicide Prevention Tip Lines in place to help those in need.