15-year-old’s suicide attempt mimicked death in ‘13 Reasons Why’

OKEECHOBEE — As a 15-year-old Okeechobee girl prepared to take her own life on Mother’s Day, two teenagers she thought were her friends were egging her on.

In the week after the suicide attempt, the girl’s mother has pieced together some of what happened before her daughter cut her arms open and waited in the bathtub for her life to end, mimicking the narrator in the Neflix series “13 Reasons Why.”

Based on information shared by her daughter and messages found on her daughter’s phone, the mother is starting to understand what happened … but not why.

“The kids haven’t said why,” she said.

The five children – two boys and three girls – in the suicide pact are ages 14 and 15, she said. They were students at the Okeechobee Freshman Campus and Okeechobee High School.

They made a pact to run away together and change their identities, or if they were unable to do that, to kill themselves, the mom explained.

The five claimed to be seeking a future that “didn’t involve adults telling them what to do.”
On the morning of May 13, as the rest of the family enjoyed a quiet Mother’s Day, the 15-year-old girl was messaging the two boys in the pact and sending them videos on SnapChat.

Apparently one of the boys was calling her “weak” and “selfish” and urging her to prove she would actually kill herself.

“The boy let our daughter send a video of herself. She took a pencil sharpener apart to get the blade out,” she said.

She then sent a video of herself slicing her arm open.

After cutting both arms open from the wrist almost to the elbow, the girl continued to text with the boys, the mother continued.

In the texts, she complained that “it’s taking too long … it’s not like on 13 Reasons.”

One of the boys called 911, and the deputy got to the house in time to alert the parents.

The 15-year-old was rushed to the emergency room, and then transferred to a mental health facility. She is now home, recovering from her wounds and is in therapy.

The other four teens in the pact were identified and their parents warned.

The mother said the texts make is obvious her daughter was using “13 Reasons Why” as the template for her suicide.

“Other than the type of blade used, my daughter did everything the girl in ‘13 Reasons’ did,” she said. Her texts also reference the show.

The mother said she did not give her daughter permission to watch the Netflix series, but she knows parents cannot control everything teenagers see online.

“I’m angry that show is out there, and even more angry there is now a season 2,” she said.

“Why even put these shows out there and put it in her mind to try to kill herself the way it is done in this show?”

The mother said she believes shows like “13 Reasons Why” glorify teen suicide.

“They should be glorifying kids who speak up,” she said.

Since the mother posted her video on Facebook urging others to speak up if they hear a teenager talking about wanting to die, she has heard from many parents who lost a child to suicide or whose children attempted suicide.

She plans to start a support group for parents who have gone through this heart-breaking experience, and to encourage everyone to speak out and speak up about teen suicide.

“None of us asked for this,” she said. “But we have to pull together to try to save the next kid.”

“This is a crusade I didn’t ask for,” she continued. “But it is one I am taking on.”

The newspaper contacted Netflix for comment. The Netflix public relations department confirmed receipt of the email, but did not answer questions.

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