The new Netflix teen drama 13 Reasons Why has been criticized by a mental health organization due to its enclosure of “risky suicide content.”
Suicide hotlines reacting to the series:
Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace, received “a growing number of calls and emails directly related to the program” after the show debuted in March, prompting it to issue a statement on its website.
The series focuses on a 17-year-old high school student who kills herself, she leaves behind 13 cassette tapes for 13 different people who were influential in taking her own life.
The series is produced by actor-singer Selena Gomez.
In the published statement, headspace stated that it was “urging school communities, parents, and mental health services to be aware of the dangers and risks associated for children and young people who have been exposed” to the series.
Dr. Steven Leicester, the organization’s head said: “There is a responsibility for broadcasters to know what they are showing and the impact that certain content can have on an audience – and on a young audience in particular.”
Impressionable young people:
The series hasn’t only been criticized by headspace. According to an ABC News report, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, a non-profit organization has also weighed in. Its executive director Dan Reidenberg said: “There is a great concern that I have… that young people are going to overidentify with Hannah in the series and we actually may see more suicides as a result of this television series.”
“The way things are portrayed in the media does have an effect on the way suicides can happen,” he added. “This is particularly true for young people that are very vulnerable and at risk of suicide. When they’re exposed to images that are really graphic, really sensational, and there is nothing balancing out for them… that they can get help and that treatment works and recovery is possible… we see them actually replaying what they’ve seen.”
He continued saying: “The show actually doesn’t present a viable alternative to suicide. The show doesn’t talk about mental illness or depression, doesn’t name those words. My thoughts about the series are that it’s probably done more harm than any good.”