Netflix has responded to concerns from mental health experts over its teen suicide drama “13 Reasons Why” by adding more warnings to the show.
The show has been both criticised and praised since its release on March 31 for its portrayal of a group of high school students dealing with the suicide of a fellow student, which is shown in graphic detail in one episode.
Viewer discretion warnings are shown before the show’s two most graphic episodes, but the streaming service has announced it will add new warnings and change existing ones.
Netflix said in a statement this week: “There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about our series 13 Reasons Why.
“While many of our members find the show to be a valuable driver for starting an important conversation with their families, we have also heard concern from those who feel the series should carry additional advisories.
“Currently, the episodes that carry graphic content are identified as such and the series overall carries a TV-MA rating.
“Moving forward, we will add an additional viewer warning card before the first episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series and have also strengthened the messaging and resource language in the existing cards for episodes that contain graphic subject matter, including the URL 13ReasonsWhy.info — a global resource center that provides information about professional organizations that support help around the serious matters addressed in the show.”
A 30-minute documentary following the show also directs viewers to the website, which lists crisis helplines in the countries in which the series is available to stream.
The National Association of School Psychologists in the US said in a statement last month they “do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series.”
“Research shows that exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalised accounts of death, can be one of the many risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide,” they said.
Australian mental health organisation headspace said last month they’d had a growing number of calls and emails directly related to the show since its debut.
National Manager of headspace School Support Kristen Douglas said the show “exposes viewers to risky suicide content” including the method of suicide and encouraged anyone affected by the show to reach out and seek help.
“National and international research clearly indicates the very real impact and risk to harmful suicide exposure leading to increased risk and possible suicide contagion,” she said.
“People have said the show has triggered their own vulnerabilities and made them consider whether suicide is a possible option for them.”
The New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification previously advised people under 18 to watch the show with a parent or guardian, and said while the show could spark important conversations it “ignores the relationship between suicide and the mental illness that often accompanies it.”
The office also instructed Netflix to put a warning before every episode.
13 Reasons Why is the most tweeted about TV show of 2017, amassing more than 11 million tweets since its launch at the end of March, according to data released by Twitter.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.