"13 Reasons Why" series raising alarms for local schools and par - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

"13 Reasons Why" series raising alarms for local schools and parents

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A popular but controversial Netflix series has a lot of people talking about serious issues confronting teenagers, including suicide. Concerned schools and counselors are putting parents on high alert across the country. 

The Netflix series, based on the 2007 popular novel by Jay Asher, depicts the suicide and its aftermath of a high school student. She records 13 cassette tapes describing what and who pushed her to kill herself.

Some critics say the show glamorizes and romanticizes suicide. The series has some school leaders worried, like Donna Kitrick of Waterloo Schools.

She said, "The intensity of it and the feelings that it brings out is very concerning. A student could be watching it by themselves and not know how to process their feelings of what they are experiencing."

For example, the show's school counselor, who appears to be uncaring, is one of the reasons why the teen killed herself. Kitrick is worried students will shy away from getting help.

She says, "The counselor is depicted as maybe being cold, not very engaging with the student and that's not true with many counselors, especially here in Waterloo.

Kitrick handed out talking points to school counselors, similar to a letter of resources that was sent home to parents in the Cedar Rapids School District.

Director of Learning Supports Paul Hayes says, "We want students and parents to know that there are people who will listen and who will help. If you don't get the response you need from one person, here's somebody else to reach out to."

At the same time, both school leaders say they are glad that this series is starting a very important conversation on a real issue.

Hayes says, "This is a real topic. It's an important issue and there are resources that can help people."

In response to this national discussion, Netflix has decided to put warnings on each episode of the series.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, text "START" to 741741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

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