13-year-old girl tragically hangs herself after watching Netflix series '13 Reasons Why'
When 13 Reasons Why first aired on Netflix last year, the show's subject matter divided opinions. Some saw it as a blunt and honest look at mental health problems in young people, whereas others viewed it as a glamorized portrayal of suicide.
The series started to receive backlash after a number of deaths were linked to it, and statistics show that, after the premiere, the phrase "how to commit suicide" was searched 26 per cent more times than what would normally have been expected for that time. "Suicide prevention" was looked up 23 per cent more, and "suicide hotline number" searches went up by 21 per cent.
Now, another suicide has been tied to it. Lily Mae Sharp, a 13-year-old from the UK, was heard talking about 13 Reasons Why before she hanged herself at her home last May.
In a hearing about her death, Lily's mother, Victoria Noblet, told the inquest about a video that her daughter appeared in a day before her death. It was filmed at school, and showed Lily with a noose made of toilet paper tied around her neck.
"I do wonder about that video. She was watching a Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, where I think that does bear some similarities," Noblet said.
"She had mentioned it a couple of times. She had her own Netflix log in. I don’t know for sure whether she did watch it or not but I know she had been discussing it amongst her friends. I think she asked had I seen it and I said, ‘No’."
However, Noblet also mentioned that her daughter was going through a "tough time" in the period leading up to her death. While she was usually "happy and bubbly", her mood was shaken up by the separation of her mother and step-father, who had raised her since the age of five.
Lily's father, David Pearson, had split from Noblet when their daughter was just a year old, but still maintained regular weekly contact with her. Pearson says that he had noticed a change in Lily's demeanor, and arranged a counseling session for the teenager so that she could talk through any difficulties she was experiencing. During the meetings, she reportedly said that she was "worried" and "scared" about the future, but did not indicate any plans to take her own life.
The principal of Lily's school also spoke at the hearing to say that the 13-year-old had never appeared to be a cause for concern, though there had been some "speculation" about her being bullied. He was also aware of the incident in the toilets, of which he said: "As I understand it the incident was a prank related to the TV programme Lily had been watching, or possibly some of the other girls."
In a counseling session six days before her death, Lily claimed that she was happy.
At the end of the hearing, the senior coroner concluded that the young girl had completed suicide. In a closing statement, he said:
"There was no obvious pattern of troubling behavior, no red flags appear, to alert family, friends, school to issues.
"There was one or two episodes we have heard about, but not that would knit together to form a pattern to alert those who loved Lily that something was wrong.
"This was an impulsive act on Lily’s part which, although deliberate, was a spur of the moment decision rather than something she had been planning for any length of time, but no less heartbreaking for her family and friends."
An incredibly sad story.