Netflix’s new series “13 Reasons Why” has certainly created a lot of buzz over the past few weeks, but now an Australian mental health organization is criticizing the show for its “dangerous” portrayal of suicide.
The show, which is based on a book by Jay Asher and produced by Selena Gomez, tells the story of a 17-year-old girl named Hannah who kills herself. She then leaves behind 13 tapes explaining why she took her own life.
While the series addresses important topics such as teen bullying and mental health, it also includes graphic scenes of not only Hannah’s suicide, but of rape and self-harm.
Australia's National Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace , says they have “received a growing numbers of calls and emails directly related to the program” and are urging people to “be aware of the dangers and risks associated for children and young people who have been exposed” to the show.
In a statement, Dr. Steven Leicester, head of online counselling services at Headspace, 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 a young audience in particular.”
This isn’t the first time the Netflix series has been called out for its graphic content. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, a U.S. non-profit suicide prevention group, has also raised concerns that the show may do “more harm than good.”
“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,” executive director Dan Reidenberg told ABC News.
He added, “I've heard from others that are really concerned because it’s so sensational and so graphic that they're worried about the copycat effect of suicide.”
Additionally, “Stranger Things” star Shannon Purser — who has previously been open about her own struggles with mental health and self-harm — recently issued a warning about the show on Twitter.
I would advise against watching 13 Reasons Why if you currently struggle with suicidal thoughts or self harm/have undergone sexual assault.— Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) April 18, 2017
There are some very graphic scenes in there that could easily trigger painful memories and feelings. Please protect yourselves.— Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) April 18, 2017
There are lots of really good things about the show and I have no doubts that it is important and could be helpful to some. Just be careful.— Shannon Purser (@shannonpurser) April 18, 2017
Since “13 Reasons Why” first aired in March, viewers have had mixed feelings about the show. While many agreed that the show could be triggering for those struggling with mental illness …
13 Reasons Why is fine if youre watching from Clays pov but if you've dealt with suicide/depression and relate to Hannah it's kinda terrible— Thalia Cruz (@asdfghjkliaa) April 18, 2017
Even if you're in the right headspace, be careful watching 13 Reasons Why. It's a good warning story but there are a lot triggering scenes.— (((bee mom))) (@annalisebraves) April 3, 2017
Some thought it was a great way to spread awareness.
Wow #13reasonwhy .. I'm just so thankful someone made a educational and realistic show to make an important point and spread awareness ❤️🙏🏼— em (@thisisemilymcd) April 18, 2017
And one viewer defended the show, saying it flashed warnings at the beginning of its final (and most graphic) episodes.
can people stop acting like 13 reasons why didn't put trigger warnings before the last 3 episodes? it was uncomfortable because it was REAL— ebon (@abstractnights) April 13, 2017
In response to the criticism, Netflix released a statement, saying: “We support the unflinching vision of the show’s creators, who engaged the careful advice of medical professionals in the scriptwriting process.”
Additionally, in a Netflix feature titled “Beyond the Reasons,” producer Gomez revealed the thought process behind the series.
“We wanted to do it in a way where it was honest, and we wanted to make something that it (sic) can hopefully help people because suicide should never ever be an option,” she said.
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