Netflix show ’13 Reasons Why’ sparks local debate

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BETTENDORF-- Morgan Schmidt was just 12 years old when she took her own life three years ago.

"I saw one Morgan who was happy, outgoing, sports, perfect attendance, straight A's, to wanting to die. It didn't compute," says Morgan's mom Christine Schmidt.

Christine's spent every day since trying to figure out why.

Her reality mirrors a fictional story playing out in a Netflix show called 13 Reasons Why.

Christine can't bring herself to finish the series, 13 episodes telling one high school girl's story of why, what lead to her suicide.

The story is now sparking debate.

"It's a good movie in that it brings up the discussion, but I think younger kids who are particularly vulnerable probably shouldn't be watching it," says local psychiatrist Michael Bertroche.

Dr. Bertroche says the show doesn't do enough to teach people about the resources out there to help. He worries it could trigger copycats because of the graphic scenes of rape and even suicide.

"You get people who will be a casualty because of this show," says Bertroche.

But some see the show as an opportunity.

"Maybe that's the whole point of it is that we're talking about this so we can help and save children," says Christine.

This mom hopes parents use this controversial show as a platform for those hard conversations.

"She was having this high anxiety and horrible depression which she hid it very well from our family even," says Christine.

She thinks about the conversations they could have, should have had.

Related: Iowa mom launches anti-depression coalition for kids and parents

"Just look into their eyes and ask them these questions because there is nothing worse that's happened in my life than having to leave this hospital without Morgan, knowing she was gone," says Christine.

Three years later the pain isn't gone, but there is new joy.

Christine just became a grandma for the first time to a baby girl, Natalie Morgan.

"Just new life. We just think more about the future now than being stuck back three years ago," says Christine.

She is hoping to stop asking why and start finding ways to heal.

School districts nationwide are reacting to the show. Locally, North Scott School District is considering sending letters home with students to alert parents about the show. They hope to spark conversation about mental health outside of school walls.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from mental health issues there are resources to help.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
  • Robert Young Outpatient Service Center (309) 779-2031
  • Robert Young Center Crisis Line (309) 779-2999
  • Family Resources 563-445-0557
  • NAMI Greater Mississippi Valley 1-844-430-0375
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