Family, Ministry Demanding Netflix pull ‘13 Reasons Why’

Lifestyle, Media, Politics
Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Rebecca Davis, Special for USABR.

Fourteen-year-old Anna Bright, of Alabaster, Alabama, is dead after binge-watching the first season of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. She killed herself in a way that mimicked the graphic suicide scene in the season finale of the show.

Her parents, Joseph and Patrice Bright, fully believe 13 Reasons Why contributed to the passing of their daughter, and they want to put an end to the show, including a stop to its high-anticipated second season – speculated to release soon.

The first season of the series, which quickly became Netflix’s most tweeted about show at the time with more than 11 million tweets, is based on a young adult novel written by Jay Asher. Both the novel and the series revolve around the suicide of teenager Hannah Baker who leaves behind cassette tapes that blame 13 different people as the reasons she ended her life. The tapes are her means of revenge, her power over them after death.

Targeted at teens, the Netflix series is rated TV-MA for mature audiences only; it is full of gratuitous profane language, excessive drug and alcohol use by high school students, homosexuality, empty friendships, bullying and violence, graphic sex including two rape scenes – one likened to soft porn, and a full-on, raw, very real and gruesome three-minute depiction of a teenage girl committing suicide.

Yet teens are drawn to it – immersed in it and, in ways, controlled by its haunting darkness. Research reveals that the show is a trigger for suicidal ideation and copycat suicides.

According to a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine, online suicide queries increased by 19% during the first 19 days after the release of 13 Reasons Why.

San Diego State University public health professor John Ayers said, “Past studies have validated that Internet searches mirror real-world suicide rates, so suicide rates have likely gone up as a result of this program.”

Anna Bright’s suicide confirms his claims, as do the suicides of Bella Herndon and Priscilla Chiu, both 15-year-olds from California who took their own lives just days after watching the series. A 23-year-old Peruvian man, Franco Alonso Lazo Medrano, also committed suicide and left behind recordings that mimicked what Hannah Baker did in 13 Reasons Why.

While there can be no objective proof, the Brights are confident that 13 Reasons Why led to their daughter’s death. So they contacted American Family Association in an effort to make their voices heard, save lives, and reach Netflix. Their previous efforts to contact the streaming giant about the death of their daughter had been crassly dismissed.

AFA realized the importance and urgency in the Brights’ efforts and has come alongside them in a ministry-wide initiative, which began with AFA President Tim Wildmon sending a private letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, respectfully asking for a short meeting to discuss concerns about the series and Netflix’s lack of parental controls. The letter was never answered.

Therefore, AFA is now urging parents, grandparents, and others who are concerned about the nation’s youth to watch a heartbreaking video about Anna Bright, read the Bright family’s full story in the May issue of AFA Journal, and then sign a petition demanding that Netflix remove Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why from the streaming service and cancel the upcoming release of Season 2.

The influence of media is so very powerful over a person. Netflix needs to know that lives are at stake, all for the sake of entertainment.

Rebecca Davis is a Staff Writer for the American Family Association Journal. Rebecca Davis has been a writer for the American Family Association since 2004. She is also associate editor of The Stand, the ministry’s blog site. She is a pastor’s wife and mother of two.



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