The series which deals with teen suicide, bullying, drunk driving and rape in graphic detail, has been criticized by some mental health experts who say the show could pose health risks for certain young people, especially those with suicidal thoughts.
Two episodes of the series, which premiered March 31, contained warnings to viewers. This week Netflix will add a warning to the show before it begins, and the text of the other warnings will be strengthened.
“There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about our series 13 Reasons Why,” Netflix said in a statement. “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 National Association of School Psychologists previously posted a statement on its website, urging caution for youth-viewing of the series.
“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,” the NASP said. “We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series.”
Others have suggested the show provides a valuable opportunity for parents to discuss the risk of suicide with their child, as well as with young people in general, and teach them how to identify warning signs of depression or suicidal thoughts.
As Deadline’s Dominic Patten said in his review of the series, 13 Reasons Why takes “a good look at the cumulative humiliations and hurts we too often ignore until we can’t look away”.
13 Reasons Why is directed by Oscar Winner Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), written by Tony and Pulitzer Prize Winner Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), and executive produced by Gomez, Joy Gorman, Michael Sugar, Steve Golin and Brian Yorkey from Anonymous Content, Kristel Laiblin and Mandy Teefey. Diana Son was executive producer/showrunner for Season 1. The series is produced for Netflix by Paramount Television.
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