While the National Association of School Psychologists says that the gory depiction of fictional character Hannah Baker’s suicide may be a trigger for others to consider suicide, Netflix will continue to host the series. However, the streaming service has now added significant warnings.
A representative for Netflix states that while they take the opinion of the NASP seriously and are taking precautions so parents and others will realize that parts of the series may be harmful to viewers, the show will remain on Netflix but with increased warnings, according to Deadline.
“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 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.”
The series revolves around 15-year-old Hannah Baker, who experiences a series of unfortunate and painful events that are a common theme for many adolescents. These include the loss of a friend, rumors being spread about her, and being treated as a sex object. She also experiences more traumatic events such as viewing the rape of a friend, being raped herself, and having the school counselor dismiss her confession that she is thinking about harming herself.
The National Association of School Psychologists has expressed concern about the series and fears it may present suicide as a solution to problems that could be solved and need not end in the death of a teenager. The group expressed concern about the wildly popular series, which is based on the 2007 book by Jay Asher, in an official statement.
“Research shows that exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized 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. We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series.”
This warning is problematic for many parents because it happened after many children had already watched the series. There is a “contagion” theory associated with suicide, with some believing it may cause others to commit suicide, particularly if viewers are shown an exact method that they are able to recreate. In the series 13 Reasons Why, Hannah successfully commits suicide in a way that is usually not successful when attempted in real life: she slits her wrist with a straight-edged razor blade while in a tub of hot water.
Another issue is that many parents are unaware their child may suffer from “suicidal ideation” or thoughts that are centered around or preoccupied with suicide, so they may not realize the risk to their child. Studies show that most teenagers do not turn to an adult with their suicidal feelings, being more likely to tell a friend or tell nobody. This situation may lead teenagers to become more preoccupied with suicide after watching the series, and they are unlikely to share their thoughts with a parent or trusted adult about the matter.
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