Parents warned about new Netflix series depicting suicide

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- It's a popular series that's sparking controversy among school districts.

The Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" follows a high school sophomore who commits suicide, leaving behind 13 tapes to the people who influenced her decision.

The series hits home for many southern Colorado school districts that have dealt with a number of suicides in the past year.

So far this school year, 14 school-aged kids have committed suicide, 11 of those in 2017 alone. Last year, 15 students died from August to May.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens.

"We had heard some concern from parents, we had heard some concern from staff members," said Allison Cortez, the Director of Communication for District 20.

That concern has school districts across the country, including several in southern Colorado, taking action.

"We wanted to make sure is that we provided the resources so that if you made that decision to talk to them about it or watch them that you had those prompts and those questions to ask," said Cortez.

District 20, along with District 12, sent emails and letters to parents about the series. They say if your students want to watch the series, watch it with them and discuss it.

"It's really important that kids that have health relationships, particularly with their parents and are able to talk about this, those kids do well in reaching out to adults, kids that are more at risk that don't have a support system that may have some suicidal idealizations, those are the kids that we really want to reach out to," said Dr. Carolena Steen, the Assistant Superintendent of Student Services at District 12.

Both districts have programs to help students and teachers with the signs that someone may need help.

They also have confidential phone numbers someone can call if they're worried about a friend.

Parents say the show does open that dialog.

"I just had asked her about that whether she would allow my granddaughter, who is 13 to watch this and she said only if I'm there with her and we can discuss it," said Patricia Leveille, a grandparent of a District 12 student.

The National Association of School Psychologists says teenagers who have or have ever had suicidal thoughts should avoid the series.

Netflix told FOX21 in a statement:

We know the material covered sensitive topics and we worked with mental health experts to show how these issues impact teens in real and dramatic ways."

Dr. Steen says teens going through something like this really just wants to talk.

The districts have provided several resources to parents on how to talk to their kids about suicide.

>> See the statement on suicide prevention from District 12.>> See the statement on suicide prevention from District 20.    

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