Save Lives by Halting ‘13 Reasons Why’ Season Two Premiere on May 18
American Family Association: It’s Not Too Late for Parents to Speak Up About This Teen-Targeted Series That Glorifies Suicide
TUPELO, Miss.—Just a few days remain before Netflix unveils season two of the teen series “13 Reasons Why,” and the American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) is reaching out to parents and other concerned family members to pull the series before another tragedy occurs.
AFA has been working with the Bright family, whose 14-year-old daughter, Anna, committed suicide two weeks after binge-watching season one of “13 Reasons Why.” The Netflix series has been criticized for glorifying suicide, and the parenting website Fatherly.com also addressed the show before the season two premiere. “There’s even evidence suggesting that by exposing teens to another person’s suicide, or what the National Association of School Psychologists called ‘graphic or sensationalized accounts of death,’ the show actually pushes an implicitly pro-suicide narrative,” according to the site.
Several months ago, the Bright family asked AFA to help tell Anna’s story. After hearing the Bright’s plea, AFA President Tim Wildmon had sent a private letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, respectfully asking for a short meeting to discuss AFA’s concerns, but the request was ignored. Now, AFA continues to work to stop season two of “13 Reasons Why,” just days before Friday’s premiere, by encouraging families to sign a petition urging Netflix to pull the second season; nearly 60,000 have signed.
“Anna Bright was a self-taught artist, musician, writer, photographer, vocalist, beauty queen, cheerleader, scholar and friend,” according to AFA writer Rebecca Davis for AFA Journal. “But on the inside, she was fighting a deep, dark battle of which her parents had no idea and to which her peers paid little attention. She hid it behind her smile and quirky personality. Young people become desensitized to the content in ‘13 Reasons Why,’ especially when they binge-watch it, like Anna did. When they immerse themselves in it for 13 hours straight, it becomes their everyday reality, the norm. The influence of media is powerful, especially when it feeds the innate sin in one’s heart.”
Regarding the series, Lowe writes that before a girl named Hannah commits suicide, she leaves a series of cassette tapes for her friend, Clay, telling him that there were 13 reasons why she decided to end her life.
“The haunting question left for the living is this: ‘Did I kill Hannah Baker?’” Lowe writes. “Guilt and shame quickly wreak havoc on a group of students whose lives are thrown together by the secrets they are each trying to hide. If there is anything positive in the message, it is that choices have consequences and that we all must take responsibility for our own actions. However, this valid message is greatly overshadowed by the graphic brutality, sexuality and corruption that is displayed as fairly ‘normal’ for kids this age. The program reflects the underlying themes present in many other teen dramas: licentiousness, do what feels good, look out for No. 1, recreational sex and drug use—all with little redemptive guidance in the drama that unfolds. Parents and other adults are depicted as incompetent, ill-informed people who interfere with what teenage reason knows to be the better way. And though these activities and beliefs may be normal for some adolescents, these programs create a distorted sense of what is typical for American teen culture and set a bad precedent for the average teen/preteen who is watching.”
Lowe goes on to share 13 reasons why life is worth living, such as the following:
- You are not alone.
- You have value.
- God cares about your tears.
- You can find help.
- Your life has purpose.
- What you are going through is temporary.
- There is a good way forward, even when life is hard.
- You are more than your outward appearance.
- You cannot imagine what good lies in store for you.
- You will not always feel this way.
- You are greatly loved.
- You will not be put to shame.
- God is up to good in your life.
“As parents, live out these 13 reasons yourself!” Lowe added. “When you talk with your kids, put these reasons into your own words, adorned with your life experience and theirs. And, as appropriate, point them to Scripture where God gives these reasons. Help them to connect the dots from God’s promises to their struggles. When God is present, you will find that there are far more than 13 reasons life is worth living.”
American Family Association representatives are available to conduct immediate breaking news interviews via its LTN line at AFA studio headquarters. Contact Media@HamiltonStratetgies.com for more information or call 610.584.1096, ext. 102.