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A 23-year-old in Peru imitated '13 Reasons Why' with his suicide

Critics were worried this would happen.

By Jessica Chandra

When 13 Reasons Why hit peak popularity, its critics were concerned the Netflix series could do more damage than good.

While the show made it OK to talk about the devastating effects of mental illness and suicide, critics, including mental health experts, were worried it could possibly inspire people to take their own lives, and leave behind messages for those who made them do it, as the show’s protagonist, Hannah Baker, does.

Critics were especially distressed at how 13 Reasons Why depicted Hannah’s graphic death — suicide media guidelines strictly warn against describing or even alluding to the method of suicide — and how the show made it seem like someone contemplating suicide would be able to exact ‘revenge’ on the people who inflicted pain on them in the way Hannah did. Headspace issued a warning about the show, saying, “National and international research clearly indicates the very real impact and risk to harmful suicide exposure leading to increased risk and possible suicide contagion.”

Now, the first reported case of life imitating art has happened. As reported by the Peruvian news outlet Diario Clarín, and picked up by People, 23-year-old Franco Alonso Lazo Medrano took his own life and left behind recordings intended for the people who drove him to suicide.

While investigating his apartment, police found two suicide notes. One had well wishes for a loved one named Claudia, and the other had instructions for his tapes, including the names of the people they were supposed to be distributed to.

There’s no indication Franco was directly inspired by 13 Reasons Why, but the similarities can’t be denied.

As the buzz around 13 Reasons Why grew, so did the criticism from psychologists, parents and schools, so Netflix added trigger warnings before every episode, instead of only using them on the ones that featured the most graphic content.

Due to the show’s overwhelming popularity, Netflix has also confirmed a second season will be happening.

The first season ended with plenty of cliffhangers, and show writer Brian York said Hannah Baker, played by Aussie actress Katherine Langford, will be “an integral part of whatever the next chapter of the story is.”

If you’re struggling with mental health issues or are worried about someone who might be, contact Beyond Blue now on 1300 22 4636.

This article has been amended from its original version.