13 Reasons Why: Mental health groups warn Netflix suicide drama may do 'more harm than good'

One organisation stated it's received a growing number of calls directly related to the series

Jacob Stolworthy
Thursday 20 April 2017 08:15 BST

A mental health organisation has criticised new Netflix teen drama 13 Reasons Why over its inclusion of “risky suicide content.”

headspace, Australia's National Youth Mental Health Foundation, published a statement on its website after “a growing number of calls and emails directly related to the programme” following its debut on the streaming service in March.

The series, produced by actor-singer Selena Gomez, centres on a 17-year-old high school student who dies by suicide, leaving behind 13 cassette tapes for 13 different people she felt was instrumental in her decision to take her own life.

In its statement, headspace revealed 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.

The organisation's head, Dr Steven Leicester, elaborated: “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.”

headspace isn't the only organisation to have criticised the series - ABC News reports that the non-profit Suicide Awareness Voices of Education has also waded in, with executive director Dan Reidenberg saying: “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.”

He added: “The way things are portrayed in the media does have an effect on the way suicides can happen. 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.”

“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,” he added. “My thoughts about the series are that it's probably done more harm than any good.”

13 Reasons Why is an adaptation of a 2007 novel by Jay Asher. The series stars Katherine Langford as Baker, Dylan Minnette, Mark Pellegrino and Kate Walsh.

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