Mesa County school district briefly pulls ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ after 7 students’ suicides

MESA COUNTY, Colo. — An official with a Western Slope school district recently ordered librarians to stop circulating a book on Netflix’s popular series “13 Reasons Why” after seven students recently committed suicide.

The series is about a high school girl who takes her own life and leaves audio recordings behind to explain why. The show has generated a lot of buzz for its popularity among teens and on social media.

But the series has also been the subject of controversy for its portrayal of several serious issues such as bullying and sexual assault, but particularly suicide.

“It would be hard for anybody who has dealt with suicide to not have a heightened awareness of things, to perhaps be a little more cautious about things,” Leigh Grasso, the curriculum director for the Mesa County Valley School District who decided to pull the book, told The Associated Press.

Grasso said she has not read the book and it’s not known if the seven students who committed suicide were inspired by the book or the series.

After school librarians and counselors determined the book did not included graphic scenes that are depicted in the Netflix series, the 20 copies available in the district were returned to circulation about three hours after Grasso’s order.

“I think we were just being cautious until we had the opportunity to look at the book and see how closely related to the movie it was,” Grasso told the AP, adding it did not amount to censorship because there was not an outright ban.

“I believe it is our duty to follow that process because censorship is a slippery slope,” a high school librarian told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Denver Public Schools released a letter to alert parents about the show and offer advice to families. A similar letter was sent to parents in the Douglas County School District.

Netflix has announced the series will return for a second season.