Just two weeks after a Maine middle school sent out a letter warning parents about the graphic suicide-related content in the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why," a 13-year-old victim of bullying took her own life.
Students at Lewiston Middle School in Lewiston, Maine, learned on May 23 that seventh-grader Anie Graham died by suicide, reports the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal. Police have said that they are investigating but do not believe that there were any suspicious circumstances surrounding her death.
"We tried so hard, we tried everything," father Matt Graham said on May 24, according to the Press-Herald. "When it got serious, when it got real, no one helped us …The school and the hospital and the insurance company all told us they couldn’t help. Every system we have in place failed our daughter."
Matt said that Amie was popular and beautiful. Students said she was bubbly and friendly. Even so, she was viciously bullied online and in person, with people telling her things like "have fun in hell," notes WCSH.
"When you think bullying, you think pushing around and harassing, but the words that were said to her were harassing," 13-year-old Felicity Sanborn told the Press-Herald. "I'd rather have all my teeth knocked out than be called some of those names."
Sanborn said that the "disrespectful" comments made Amie feel "like she was a piece of dust" and "as though she had nothing to live for."
Though an unverified report states that Graham hanged herself, a number of people have compared Amie's death to Hannah Baker, the protagonist of the Netflix show "13 Reasons Why," who fatally slits her own wrists after being severely bullied and mistreated.
Mental health experts have criticized the show for glorifying self-harm, downplaying Hannah's mental health issues -- the premise of the show is that Hannah makes 13 tapes, each dedicated to somebody who pushed her over the edge -- and showing the death scene in graphic detail, notes NBC News.
"We feel it was done irresponsibly and we don't agree with many portrayals including of Hannah's death, memorialization, and placing blame on others," said Phyllis Alongi, Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide's clinical director, according to NBC.
Dr. Victor Schwartz, medical director of another anti-suicide organization, the Jed Foundation, called the show "an extended revenge fantasy."
The show's creators said that they "worked very hard not to be gratuitous," but "13 Reasons Why" is so controversial that Lewiston Middle School's superintendent sent home a letter warning parents about it, notes WCSH.
"While these are topics that are important to discuss and bring awareness to, a point of concern among the show's critics is the graphic nature of some of the scenes in the series," reads the letter. "Content of this nature can be difficult to watch and can trigger strong emotions in some viewers, especially children and young adolescents."