“The popularity of the series might really save lives and so might more reading and talking about the issue.”
The YA novel, written by Jay Asher, is the source material for a wildly popular and highly contentious Netflix adaptation of the same name, about a high school girl who decides to commit suicide after compiling a series of tapes that chronicle her reasons for doing so.
The show, considered a smash success for the streaming service, has been both praised by critics for its unsettling take on teenage-centric TV and denounced by psychologists for its irresponsible depiction of mental illness.
Teachers and parents have expressed similar concerns, claiming that the TV show glorifies and romanticizes suicide ― taking issue with the graphic depiction of the lead character’s actual suicide, which some have claimed opens the door for copycats.
In response, the curriculum director at Mesa County Valley School District in Colorado, Leigh Grasso, told her schools’ librarians to temporarily pull copies of Asher’s book from circulation. “I think we were just being cautious until we had the opportunity to look at the book and see how closely related to the movie it was,” she told The Associated Press.
According to the AP, the order “rankled some librarians who called [the decision] censorship.” Following protests, the books ― 19 of which were already checked out by students at the time ― were officially returned to circulation.
“Censorship is a slippery slope,” one librarian wrote to the school, according to emails obtained by The Daily Sentinel through a Colorado Open Records Act request.”