Teens Belle Herndon & Priscilla Chiu Commit Suicide After Watching ’13 Reasons Why,’ Families Blame Series
Family members of Belle Herndon and Priscilla Chiu are urging Netflix to stop streaming 13 Reasons Why because they say the teenagers committed suicide after watching the series.
John Herndon and Peter Chiu, the father and uncle of the victims, have never before met in person but are now supporting each other in their shared grief. The two men knew the 15 year olds were troubled but didn’t start reading about the signs of suicide until it was too late.
The Netflix series, based off of Jay Asher’s young-adult 2007 best-seller, shows the lead character Hanna taking her life after leaving audio tapes describing the “13 Reasons Why.” Chiu and Herndon believe Netflix’s decision to stream the series is “totally irresponsible” as it provides a “blueprint to show children how to commit suicide.”
Netflix added “viewer discretion advised” warnings for the show’s graphic depiction of violence after mental health experts raised concerns. However, these two suicides raise questions about whether the added warning labels are enough.
Executive producer Selena Gomez has defended the show being for a teenage audience saying, “It hits a very important part in me, and I think this is what they need to see. I want them to understand it.”
Netflix has released a statement following the two suicides saying: “We have heard from many viewers that ’13 Reasons Why’ has opened up a dialogue among parents, teens, schools and mental health advocates around the intense themes and difficult topics depicted.”
“Really, you’re going to tell me that showing the tragic, dramatic death of a 15-year-old girl is supposed to provide some kind of, some kind of venue for a discussion?” Herndon said in response to the statement. The grieving father says that he’d like to meet with Netflix to convince the network to stop showing the first season and cancel plans for season two.
“My question to Netflix would be, did they take into account any potential negative impact that season one has had?” Chiu said.
The two men hope to save other families from losing loved ones that are young and vulnerable.