13 Reasons Why blamed for teen girls' suicide deaths
TWO schoolgirls killed themselves days apart after being "inspired" by the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, their heartbroken parents claim.
The Sun reports that Bella Herndon and Priscilla Chiu, both 15, died after watching the hit US drama that has been accused of "glorifying" suicide.
The series - produced by former child star Selena Gomez - tells the fictional story of bullied schoolgirl Hannah Baker, who recorded 13 tapes for the people she blamed for wanting to end her life.
Netflix was forced to add warning messages before episodes following concern over rape and suicide scenes. It also added links to support groups.
Bella was three days short of her 16th birthday when her parents found her lifeless in her bedroom.
She died after more than a week on life support.
Her dad John Herndon told local California channel KTVU: "There's no word that describes my contempt for the people that did this.
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On April 22, Priscilla took her own life.
Her uncle Peter Chiu, who found her, said she had suffered from depression and had been watching 13 Reasons.
He described the show as "very graphic" - particularly the scene in which the main character self harms in the bath.
Both girls lived in the San Francisco Bay area, where the drama was filmed.
Netflix said: "Our hearts go out to these families during this difficult time.
"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 difficult topics depicted in the show.
"We took extra precautions to alert viewers to the nature of the content and created a global website to help people find local mental health resources."
Writer Brian Yorkey defended the show. He was quoted as saying: "Many people are accusing the show of glamorising suicide and I feel very strongly that we did the exact opposite.
"What we did was portray suicide and we portrayed it as very ugly and very damaging."
The show returns for a second series next year.
Last month teachers in Austria stopped a double suicide pact by two girls aged 13 who had reportedly been inspired by 13 Reasons Why.
And a number of British schools issued a suicide warning, urging parents to talk to their kids if they have watched 13 Reasons.
A letter sent from The American School in London warns: "The creation of an elaborate suicide note that has a revenge-like quality to it may be appealing to students who are already looking for a way out."
If you are experiencing mental health issues or suicidal feelings contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue 1300 224 636. If it is an emergency please call 000.
This article originally appeared in The Sun