Lubbock father urges parents to not let kids watch "13 Reasons Why" alone
Nick Watts vividly remembers the day he found his son dead in his bedroom.
"I ran to him. I held him," Watts said. "In a nanosecond I thought it was a mannequin but I quickly - I screamed his name and of course I quickly realized it was him. He had a tattoo on his left forearm. It was seconds after that I ran into our driveway, dropped to the concrete and screamed and screamed and screamed."
Because of his experience with suicide, watching the Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why" was especially tough for him.
"Because I found my son that day," he said, "when her parents discovered her lifeless body, it was so traumatizing. I screamed and I wept."
The show highlights the 13 reasons why the fictitious character, Hannah Baker, kills herself and the roles her classmates play in her death. It graphically details each event, such as rape. Watts said it potentially glamorizes a parent's worst nightmare.
"There is a significant demographic of those who are already suffering from depression - other mental illnesses - who are suicidal, who have already had suicidal thoughts and it will trigger them," he said. "It could be the thing that pushes them over the cliff.
Mental health professionals warn parents the show could be dangerous. The National Association of School Psychologists suggests some students could romanticize suicide or commit suicide for revenge. Some schools are even going as far as sending letters home advising parents to not let vulnerable students watch the show.
"The message that this series can send in romanticizing suicide is that, 'You know what? The ultimate way I can get back at those who have bullied me is to take my life.'"
Despite what he said are the dangers associated with the show, Watts said he does not want it censored. Instead, he would rather parents take the opportunity to reach out to their children to help them process what they are watching.
"There are better ways to handle bullying. There are people in abundance who can help, who can help you see beyond the pain, beyond the problem. The answer is not to take your life. The answer is to help you rediscover life."