Since its March 31 debut, the Netflix original series ”13 Reasons Why” has been making headlines for the way it tackles difficult topics such as suicide, depression, and bulling. However, some mental health experts fear the show could glorify teen suicide for those on the edge.
The series 13 Reasons Why, co-produced by actress and pop star Selena Gomez, is based on Jay Asher’s young-adult bestseller about Hanna Baker, a high school student who kills herself and leaves behind 13 tapes detailing the events that led to her death.
Australian mental health organization Headspace has slammed hit Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’ for showing “dangerous” and “risky” content around suicide.
Kristen Douglas, a spokesperson for Australian youth mental health organization Headspace, pointed out that “harmful suicide exposure” leads to ”increase risk and possible suicide contagion.” It is not like car crashes or cancer,” she said. ”Irresponsible reporting of suicide can lead to further death.”
“If you’re a young person viewing this content, feeling entrapped, bullied, like things aren’t going to get better, like, ‘I wish I could tell these people to stop, they don’t know how far they’re pushing me’… this all of a sudden becomes a very real option,” she said.
Other experts agree that the show’s depiction of suicide is dangerous and harmful because the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” include a disturbing scene graphically showing Hanna’s suicide.
Speaking in Netflix’s making-of featurette 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the reasons, Gomez says: ”We wanted to do in a way where it was honest and we wanted to make something that can hopefully help people because suicide should never be an option.”
Asher said that the vivid and graphic depiction of baker’s suicide was an attempt to de-glamorize it and show the ‘painful’ reality.
“We worked very hard not to be gratuitous,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “But we did want it to be painful to watch because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing, in any way, worthwhile about suicide.”
Headspace said it had ” received a growing numbers of calls and emails related to the program”, with a spokesperson for Australian youth mental health organization headspace, telling The Huffington Post Australia that schools and parents had already been in contact expressing their concern about the show and the impact it could have on young adults.
Sarah Chelda, a 20-year-old psychology student who has borderline personality disorder and major depression, said BuzzFed that the way 13 Reasons why presents suicide and mental health as an entertaining puzzle for people to solve has cause her a lot of distress.
“Yes, we do need to talk about risks and young people’s mental health, but there are helpful and responsible ways to talk about suicide, and there’s harmful and irresponsible ways to talk about suicide,” said Douglas. “Whilst 13 Reasons Why is raising a really important issue, it’s doing it in a really harmful way.”
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