GLENDALE, AZ - Less than a month after a popular show debuted on Netflix, doctors are saying they’ve seen an uptick in teenagers visiting Valley emergency room with suicidal thoughts.
The 13 episode series is narrated by Hannah Baker, a high school student who took her own life. In the weeks following her tragic death, she releases 13 tapes that are passed between a handful of peers. Each tape is dedicated to a specific person and she explains what role they played in her suicide.
The series is based on the novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, by best-selling author Jay Asher. Actress and pop star Selena Gomez has been referred to as the driving force behind the series for co-producing the show and contributing to the soundtrack.
However, since the controversial series was released, many people have taken to the Internet to accuse the show of glamorizing suicide.
Melissa Coble of Scottsdale says her son attempted to take his own life and she believes the revenge fantasy storyline is sending the wrong message to its young audience.
“When you send the message that it says…it’s reasonable to think that someone would take their own life,” Coble said. “It’s an irresponsible message to send.”
Coble says she was shocked to learn that her daughter has already “binge watched” the show after her brother was treated at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale for depression and suicidal thoughts.
“We both know where this can go,” Coble said. “We have seen this almost pushed to the edge. We need to know. I need to know what you think and what you feel.”
Mental Health experts at Banner Thunderbird have mixed reviews when it comes to the show's message. However, they haven't been able to verify whether or not patients with suicidal thoughts is directly correlated to the show's release.
On average, up to seven people visit the emergency room with reports of suicidal thoughts. However, since the show aired, doctors say they’ve seen up to 18 teens in just one day. While doctors aren’t necessarily blaming the show, they say it poses a valuable opportunity for parents to discuss suicide with their teens.
Dr. Goshawn Chawla told ABC15 that parents need to encourage open dialogue with their kids and learn how to recognized the warning signs of depression or suicidal thoughts.
13 Reasons Why was released on Netflix March 31.
In Arizona, someone commits suicide every seven hours making it the 13th in the country in terms of suicide death, according to 2015 statistics.
This weekend the American Association of Suicidology is hosting its 50th Annual Conference. If you'd like to attend, click here for more information.