Australia's mental health org warns against watching Netflix's '13 Reasons Why'

By @jane_tvhunter on
Dylan Minnette
Cast member Dylan Minnette poses at the premiere of the film "Goosebumps," in Los Angeles, California October 4, 2015. Reuters/Danny Moloshok

Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” is under fire even after it was released weeks ago. An Australian mental health organisation has issued a warning against the graphic content of the show.

Headspace, a youth mental health foundation in Australia, claimed that it received several calls and emails from parents and young people who are concerned about the program's content. The organisation said that the show presents viewers with graphic scenes that portray suicide.

Dr. Steven Leicester, head of headspace online counselling service, said that his staff has been dealing with constant complaints from concerned individuals since the show premiered in Down Under last month. "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," Leicester said in a statement.

Headspace School Support manager Kristen Douglas said that exposing viewers to risky suicide content could lead to a distressing reaction from the young audience. She added how it could also result to possible “suicide contagion.”

Meanwhile, Mindframe, a national initiative at Australia’s Hunter Institute of Mental of Health, also strongly urge against the explicit content of the Netflix show. Institute director Jaelea Skehan cited a number of concerns about what she called a "very graphic and very hard to watch” TV show.

“While ‘13 Reasons Why’ tries to talk about teenage life and risk factors for suicide, it actually conveys an inaccurate message about suicide, suggesting that there are clear and linear reasons why a person would contemplate or complete suicide … The show almost sets a tone that with so many ‘reasons’ that suicide was inevitable, which is not a helpful message to send,” Skehan said in a statement.

“13 Reasons Why” is rated MA 15+ in Australia. This means it is not suitable for people under 15 due to strong content.

The Netflix original series was adapted from Jay Asher’s book of the same name. The lead roles were played by Australian actress Katherine Langford (Hannah) and Dylan Minnette (Clay).

The show is about high-school student Hannah Baker, who committed suicide and left behind 13 audio tapes. Each of the tapes was sent to 13 people who one way or another played a part in her death. In the book's original ending, however, Hannah survives her suicide attempt.

In the finale of the Selena Gomez-produced drama, Clay listened to all of Hannah's tapes and discovered the 13 reasons she killed herself. Near the end, a graphic suicide scene was shown.

Netflix has yet to announce whether there will be another season. Asher, however, would like a continuation of all the characters’ stories. He admitted that season 2 is possible, because some characters’ storylines were left open on the TV adaptation's finale.

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