The Parents Television Council has written to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his board members demanding to know why the show “13 Reasons Why” remains on the air despite research linking it “to an increase in suicides among children.”
The show revolves around the graphic suicide of a girl, the main character, and her “reasons” for killing herself.
A recently reported study revealed there were 195 more youth suicides than would have been expected in the nine months after the show came out in March 2017, CBN reported.
“The lead author of the findings, Jeff Bridge at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, says the creators of the series intentionally portrayed the suicide of the main character with a very graphic depiction of her death. He says seeing that alone can trigger suicidal behavior,” the report said.
Now, the organization PTC, through its president, Tim Winter, is asking why Netflix is not taking action.
Winter told Hastings in his letter: “At the Netflix annual shareholder meeting approximately one year ago, you responded to a question put forth by the Parents Television Council about the renewal of ’13 Reasons Why’ for a second season. We asked how you could justify keeping a show on the air that was linked to a 26 percent increase in Google searches on how to commit suicide. You arrogantly dismissed our concern, saying that the program is ‘enormously popular and successful … but nobody has to watch it.'”
He continued: “Now the National Institutes of Health has linked the release of ’13 Reasons Why’ with a 30 percent increase in suicides among children ages 10-17, ostensibly confirming our worst fears from a year ago. The NIH findings support research from the University of Michigan last November suggesting that at-risk children believed ’13 Reasons Why’ increased their suicide risk.
“How many children must die,” the letter demands, “before you decide that this ‘popular’ program is no longer ‘successful?’ And how can a publicly traded corporation, and its officers and board of directors, continue to stand behind the distribution of a product that is linked to children committing suicide?”
The letter continued: “How much harm are you willing to inflict along the way?
“Any product intentionally placed into the stream of commerce that is linked to children hurting or killing themselves should be voluntarily removed until it can be proven to be safe. Instead, your company keeps that product in the stream of commerce, only adding video warnings. And while we applaud a heightened awareness and concern for sexual assault and suicide, Netflix added those video warnings to the program not because the program is safe for children, but precisely because it is dangerous.”
Free speech is a blessing in America, but “just because we have a right to do something doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right thing to do,” the letter said.
“The right thing for you to do is to remove ’13 Reasons Why’ from your distribution platform unless and until it can be proven not to be harmful to children. And the right thing for you to do is to implement a pricing structure that allows Netflix subscribers to opt-out of receiving and paying for sexually explicit, graphically violent, and harshly profane programming.”
Winter said that if Hastings refuses to make the correction, “I hereby call on the Netflix board of directors – each of whom is copied on this letter – to demand it.”
Board members were identified as Richard Barton, Rodolphe Belmer, Mathias Döpfner, Tim Haley, Jay Hoag, Leslie Kilgore, Ann Mather, Susan Rice, Brad Smith and Anne Sweeney.
PTC also has set up an online petition to the board urging the program be canceled