Mom faults teacher for prompting son to watch teen suicide TV show

Believes '13 Reasons Why' show contributed to son's mental health disorders

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A Clay County mother says that her son’s teacher at Clay High School gave him the idea of watching a controversial Netflix series dealing with teen suicide, contributing to some of his mental health disorders.

She said the show “13 Reasons Why” glorifies suicide.

The Netflix show, which deals with the aftermath of a teenager who takes her own life and leaves behind 13 reasons why, has received a lot of praise from critics, but the student’s mother, who ask to speak with anonymity, said it should have never been brought up in his classroom.

The first episode of the show starts with a strong warning, “this fictional series covers several difficult issues, including depression and suicide.”

The mother told News4Jax that she believes the warning wasn’t enough.

“I was told that one of the teachers was discussing the series in class, and, basically, said I think it’s a pretty good show you guys should check it out,” an unnamed mother said. “I would never have let my son watch that, especially alone.”

The mother said the classroom discussion is the reason why her son watched it. Then days later her son was committed for psychiatric evaluation, and she said he had been what she calls “self-harming.”
“When I went to talk to the school about it after he was released from the MHRC (mental health resource center), I had written notes that he had made. He was creating a 13 reasons why list and told us that he, at that point, was having thoughts of suicide -- that he didn’t want to live.”

New4Jax reached out to the Clay County School District, which said it was the students who brought up the show, not the teacher. According to the CCSD, they asked the teacher whether he had seen it. School officials said he went home to watch it and they had a brief follow-up conversation about whether he liked it. They added that the show is not part of the curriculum and they don’t actively encourage conversations about such a powerful issue.

The mother said she’s not sure what she’ll do for her son. She told News4Jax she believes that local psychiatric facilities are not enough.

“I know they’re overbooked, understaffed and hard to get an appointment,” the mother said. “Especially for children that need ongoing extra stuff. They don’t have time or resources for it.”

The mother said she’s unsure if she’ll send her son back to Clay High School.

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.