Judge rules Netflix can’t be sued by parents who allege ’13 Reasons Why’ prompted suicide

A district court judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against Netflix by the parents of a teenager who allegedly committed suicide after watching the streaming platform’s show. 13 Reasons Why.


News of the decision was first published Hollywood Reporter, The plaintiffs now have until January 18 to file an amended complaint that would allow them to hear the appeal.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez of the Northern District of California said that Netflix cannot be held responsible for actions that viewers take after watching programming released by the company.


While Gonzalez acknowledged the sad aspect of the lawsuit, she said that Netflix was protected from its use of free speech.

“It’s a sad case,” Gonzalez said. “But ultimately, I don’t think it survives.”


“Federal courts often deal with such tragedies, including those involving deaths from civil rights violations,” Gonzalez said.

The case was originally brought to court in August. It was part of a class-action lawsuit in which the lead plaintiff, John Herndon, said that his daughter Isabella had died by suicide after watching a scene. 13 Reasons Why In which the teenage hero, played by Katherine Langford, takes his own life.

The suicide of Langford’s character sets in motion the events of the show as his friends attempt to piece together the aftermath of his death.


A California judge dismissed a lawsuit from parents who said their daughter died by suicide after watching the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why.” The parents were trying to hold Netflix responsible for their daughter’s death. Here, the Netflix logo can be seen in front of their selection of programming.
Chessnot / Getty

While the show became extremely popular, especially among teenagers, 13 Reasons Why The controversy attracted controversy after some parents accused the Netflix hit of “glamorizing” suicide. A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry also found that suicides among teens increased by nearly 30 percent in the month following the show’s March 2017 release.

This is despite the episode beginning with a disclaimer that it contains “graphic depictions of violence and suicide” and that the show “may not be suitable for younger audiences.”

Amidst the continuing uproar over the show, Netflix eventually edited the episode, removing the scene that depicted the character’s suicide. However, this was not done until July 2019, more than two years after the show’s premiere.


The show ran for four seasons, with the series finale in 2020.

Despite being in the limelight 13 Reasons Why, Herndon’s lawyers said the lawsuit was, in fact, more targeted toward Netflix’s algorithm, which it claimed suggests problematic and triggers content for young adults. beyond suicide, 13 Reasons Why, Notably, scenes of sexual assault, rape and bullying are also depicted.

Attorney Ryan Hamilton said, “This case is about the private targeting of vulnerable children and consequences that were not only visionary and predicted about, but Netflix was warned about.”

However, despite insistence that the program contributed directly to Isabella Herndon’s suicide, Netflix’s lawyers argued that setting a precedent against the streaming giant would eventually lead to companies censoring the content out of fear.

A Netflix attorney wrote, “Producers obliged to shield certain viewers from expressive works depicting suicide, which would essentially censor themselves to avoid the threat of liability.” “It would dampen enthusiasm and limit the diversity of public debate.”

Netflix lawyers also pointed to a number of other beloved movies that have elements of teen suicide, such as dead Poets Society And the perks of Being a Wallflower.

newsweek has reached out to Netflix for comment.

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential support is available free of charge at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255, The line is available round the clock.