El Paso

'13 Reasons Why': A cautionary tale for parents

Netflix series deals with teen suicide

'13 Reasons Why'

EL PASO, Texas - "13 Reasons Why" is a runaway hit series on Netflix. You may not recognize the show, but if you have a teen in your life, chances are they are watching.

The series, which follows a fictional book of the same name, is the story of high school student Hannah Baker, who committed suicide. Her death is really just the beginning.  Hannah leaves behind 13 audio recordings for the 13 people she believes played a part in her taking her own life.

The show, co-produced by singer/actress Selena Gomez, has hit a nerve with young people all across the country, including in the Borderland.

Hannah's recordings detail her struggles with serious subjects, such as bullying and sexual assault. 

Annette Ornelas started the Facebook page "El Paso Stop Cyberbullying." She said "13 Reasons Why" is a show parents need to know about, and preferably before their kids watch it.

"I believe they should first have the conversation with their kids, because it is graphic content. So they need to be aware of what they are going to be seeing. And I do honestly recommend for parents and their children to watching it together, because it is something they are going to be both learning," Ornelas said.

The show is not without controversy. Some worry the story line glamorizes suicide, and might inspire young people to make the same decision as Hannah.

According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among those aged 15-34.

Cynthia Sanchez lost her 14-year-old daughter, Viviana Aguirre, in January 2014. The teen hanged herself with a belt in her room. Sanchez said her daughter had been the victim of cyberbullying. Aguirre made her last Facebook post just before she committed suicide.

"It just said, 'I'm done. Thank you to all of those who tried.  I'm trying it tonight. Goodbye,'" Sanchez said.

Sanchez said she never suspected her child's troubles with bullies would lead her to take her own life.

"You have to reach out to your kids, you know what I mean? If your kids are always happy and one day you see that they are not eating, or not socializing with you, there is something wrong," Ornelas said.

"13 Reasons Why" may be a show based on a fictional character, but the subject matter is all too real. Sanchez hopes the Netflix hit will at the very least be a catalyst for parents to talk to their children about how to reach out for help.

Hannah left behind 13 reasons why she took her own life. Sanchez is left with far too many questions.

"Why did you do it? Who bullied you? What did they tell you?  What did they do to you? How long has it been going on? What hurt so deep down inside that actually made you do something like this?" Sanchez said.

Sanchez sometimes returns to her daughter's Facebook page, looking back on her daughter's life before her final post.

"I hear her voice, she has videos. She sings. I miss her. I miss her terribly.  I just wish she would still be here," Sanchez said.

For tips on preventing teen suicide, click here.


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