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PARENTS have been issued a warning over the content in Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why.

Leading Australian youth organisation, headspace, has this week issued a warning to parents about the hit drama 13 Reasons Why.

While the show has opened up a dialogue about suicide, more could be done to ensure the safety of young people.

The story, adapted from the novel of the same name, centres around the aftermath of the suicide of 16-year-old Hannah Baker, who leaves behind a series of recordings outlining the reasons she chose to end her life.

The organisation has reported a growing number of calls from concerned parents and teenagers about the show’s content, which graphically depicts bullying, violence, rape and suicide. The show’s final episode displayed the act of suicide, which has previously been shown to increase the suicide and suicide attempts in the past.

Dr Steven Leicester, who is in charge of headspace’s online counselling service, has reported that his team members are dealing with a huge influx of concern from young people since the show was made available in Australia.

“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,” he said.

The organisation’s school support manager also added that exposing young viewers to distressing content could lead to “suicide contagion”.

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Mindframe is a national health initiative, one of their jobs is to educate media companies about approaching the topic of suicide, and suicide prevention. They have also reported an increase in enquiries from concerned parents. Their guidelines strongly suggest not including depiction, method and locations of suicide.

Jaelea Skehan, the director of the Hunter Institute, has expressed concern over 13 Reasons Why’s “graphic, drawn out and hard to watch” final episode.

“While there is a warning on that final episode (and the one before that depicts the rape scene) – people may not turn off from watching the final two episodes because of a warning,” she said.

“The premise of the series sends an inaccurate message that there are clear and linear reasons why a person would contemplate or complete suicide. Often things are not so clear for people and often an individual (including a young person) can feel despair without an obvious reason. The show almost sets the tone ‘of course she would want to die with so many reasons’, but perhaps that does little to legitimise the feelings of others who were not bullied, not raped etc.

“The impact that suicide has on others is displayed, but almost as a sub-theme – e.g. the anguish of the parents, the impact on teachers (although this was displayed as minimal) and the fact that most kids were upset about the tapes more than Hannah’s death. Towards the end it hints that a second young person dies by suicide, but doesn’t draw out or explore the impact that exposure to suicide has as a risk factor to others… including this show.

“For anyone who has lost someone to suicide, the guilt factor in the series is high. That is, had just one person did something different she would still be alive. In fact, it is one of the final messages. This is something that haunts people affected, so it would be quite concerning for them and their loved ones.

13 Reasons Why does not encourage young people to involve and talk to adults or to seek help through counsellors or services. None of the young people in the show talk to an adult about what is going on – either when Hannah (or others) were experiencing issues and dealing with difficult things, and also not following her death. In fact they went to great lengths to keep information hidden from adults. When adults were displayed, they seemed too busy, uninterested or unable to help. The one time Hannah did seek help – in her words ‘one last chance at life’ the counsellor did not handle the situation well.

“The leaving of the tapes and the narrative that ‘people will be sorry for what they did’ plays into the idea that you can make people sorry or teach them a lesson through suicide. With Hannah’s voice echoing throughout the series, it is almost like she is watching this unfold. But she is dead and tapes or no tapes, Hannah will not get to see or witness people’s reactions to their mistakes.”

If you have concerns about yourself or a loved one, please contact these services.

Lifeline 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

BeyondBlue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au

Mensline 1300 789 978

KidsHelpline 1800 551 800

Have you started a dialogue with your children about mental health? Share with us in the comments.

Image source: Daily Mail

  • trigger warning for this show. pretty little liars is a show (also on netflix) that also has those kids hiding what is going on from adults and encourages lying so that show could be placed under scrutiny as well. I think that simply going on-line or getting bullied over facebook could be more impactful than watching a tv show.

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  • This is still in the news and many phycologists are complaining about it.

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  • Time for Netfix to be taken down under the Telecommunications Act.
    When they can prove that all such items have been deleted out of their systems then they can apply for another license to broadcast appropriate items.

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  • There is enough suicide in the world as it is. I hope this gets taken off the air here in Australia. I’m sure that if I had seen something like this when I was suicidal it would have pushed me over the edge. I am here because I did the right thing and got help because of a great friend who was there for me.

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  • We don’t have Netflix but thanks for the interesting and concerning article.

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  • A discussion that needs to occur with sensitivity at home and thank you for the links which all families should have for their children.

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  • The ads on Pandora are enough to not watch it. Find the ad disturbing. I feel the series is not going to address the issues in the right way. Bullying and mental health issues are such a major part of life these days, and we need to address them, we need to encourage people to talk to someone! We make sure our kids know that they can talk to us about anything, and no matter the problem, we can get through it together.

    Suicide is something that is extremely hard to deal with after the fact, for those left behind, the bullies don’t get taught a lesson, the people who cared are left with a void. People can be so nasty, we need to spend time with our kids and nurture them to always be “humble and kind”. And even at a persons darkest hour, there is always someone who is there to listen!!!

    Reply

  • I was on the tram on my way to work and heard some teenage kids talking about it. Sounded rather disturbing by what they were saying and they even said it was good the girl committed suicide! Not good at all-are they trying to promote suicide?

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  • I have heard how great this series is and am interested in watching it. I have heard parents say that after watching this they have felt the need to speak to their children more and ask Are you OK? Like all things it will have pros and cons and I can definitely see how a young mind may be drawn to think certain things after watching.

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  • A bit worrying that they actually show the suicide. We do have Netflix but no kids at home to watch it

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  • Thankfully we don’t have Netflix. However, my emails and social media have been flooded with this series. My son is going through some serious stuff at the moment and I do not want to discuss this series with him for fear of it giving him ideas. I’m also concerned that he may have been flooded with it across his social media and may know about it, without me knowing. I do think media broadcasters do have a responsibility and this particular series really worries me.

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  • From the adverts, I don’t know why anyone would want to watch this terrible acting anyway.

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  • I have netflix and a 10 year old – so thanks for advising about this show as I wouldn’t have had any idea about it.

    I agree that it is good to open up dialogue regarding feelings like bullying etc, but maybe the show could have shown how lucky she would have been if she hadn’t ended her own life rather than ending the show on that note. Maybe food for thought for a follow up series?

    Reply

  • I don’t have Netflix but thanks for the warning!

    Reply

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