The families of two teenagers who recently committed suicide are now blaming a popular Netflix series for having glorified the idea in their young and impressionable minds, claiming that the two youngsters killed themselves just days after being exposed to the series.
Bella Herndon and Priscilla Chiu, both 15-year-olds from the Bay Area of California, reportedly watched Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” in April, a series based on a popular young adult novel about a high school girl who commits suicide and leaves behind thirteen tapes describing why she killed herself.
Herndon tragically hanged herself in April, and just days later, Chiu also chose to end her own life. While the two teens did not know each other, both of their families have now begun to connect the dots and believe that the controversial program was responsible for instilling the idea in their minds.
“I feel it’s dangerous,” Peter Chiu, Priscilla’s uncle and guardian, told KTVU-TV. “The show can become a trigger for them and I feel as if the show gives only one alternative for cyber bullying and other teenage issues.”
John Herndon, Bella’s father, echoed the sentiments and noted that although his daughter had been bullied since middle school and suffered from depression, she seemed happy in the weeks leading up to her untimely death.
“She was doing great. We put her in a new school. She had new friends. They were coming over. She was interacting with them and it was very positive,” her father said, adding: “My daughter was a hero. She believed in protecting her brothers. She stood up for them.”
Now, both families are calling on Selena Gomez – the pop star turned producer for the series – to discourage teens from committing suicide and instead let them know that there are other ways to deal with bullying and mental illness.
In its own statement, Netflix addressed the controversy by pointing out that the show has “opened up a dialogue among parents, teens, schools and mental health advocate around the difficult topics depicted in the show” and insisted that it “took extra precautions to alert viewers” about the show’s content.