Few parents come out to discuss controversial Netflix series

School division tries to raise awareness

Concern about the popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has declined judging from the small turnout to a parent information meeting put on by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools on Wednesday.

Seven parents attended an hour-long meeting at St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School to discuss the show that deals with suicide, bullying, drugs and sexual behaviour.

Parent Jennifer Stepien said it was too bad that division counsellors and administration outnumbered parents.

“I think it’s always good to have a group together and open the dialogue. I just wish the turnout was better,” Stepien said.

“I think it’s good that they’re making people aware. That’s all they can do.”

Parent Jamie Noble planned to watch the series with her 11-year-old daughter and she wanted to find out how to discuss the issue of suicide with her daughter.

“It’s kind of a hard subject to talk about, but good,” Noble said.

Parent Colin Berger said his 11-year-old daughter has already watched some of the series with her mother.

“(My daughter) liked the show. I had concerns about when I watched parts for sure. She thinks it’s not a big deal. Maybe it is for some kids,” Berger said.

Carmen Baumgarten, Red Deer Catholic mental health consultant, said there’s been less talk about the series among students, but it’s scary that some say they relate to the character who kills herself.

“We’re not saying that every kid is at risk watching this show, but there is a certain cluster of kids that are going to be impacted if they are vulnerable, if they are already at risk for mental illness or suicidal ideations.”

She said research shows that months after suicide, or a very dramatic portrayal of suicide, kids are still at risk.

It’s unfortunate few parents came to the meeting, but hype about the show has diminished, and some people didn’t understand the purpose of the meeting, she said.

“We got some negative comments on social media sites from people saying that we were we’re trying to shut down the conversation which is not at all what we’re doing. We’re trying to raise awareness. We’re trying to talk about it.”

Those struggling with thoughts of suicide, or know someone who is, should talk to a trusted adult and can call Suicide Information and Education Services in Red Deer at 403-342-4966.

Kid’s Help Phone is a 24-hour, seven days a week 1-800-668-6868 website offering crisis counselling.

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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