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Popular Netflix series slammed for graphic suicide scene

on 2019年6月13日

One of Australia’s peak mental health organisations has issued a warning about graphic scenes in the new Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why.
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The television series, which revolves around the aftermath of a teenage girl’s suicide, was made available in Australia last month.

Youth mental health foundation headspace said it has received a growing number of calls and emails from parents and young people concerned about the program’s content.

The series revolves around a teenage boy who discovers a series of cassette tapes. They contain recordings made by a young woman who suicided and detailed the reasons why she self-harmed.

In the show’s final episode, viewers were confronted with the suicide itself. The scene was highly graphic and controversially depicted the method of suicide, which research suggests can be of potential risk to vulnerable people and those impacted by suicide; and has been associated with increased rates of suicide and suicide attempts.

The head of headspace’s online counselling service, Dr Steven Leicester, said his clinicians have been dealing with a constant stream of concerned individuals since the TV show made its Australian debut.

“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 in a statement.

A manager for headspace’s school support service said exposing young viewers to distressing content could lead to “suicide contagion”.

Mindframe, a national initiative at the Hunter Institute of Mental of Health that educates media companies about suicide prevention, has also been fielding enquiries from concerned individuals, according to a spokeswoman. Mindframe’s media guidelines strongly urge against including explicit content, method and location details about suicide.

Hunter Institute director Jaelea Skehan has numeorus concerns with 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 in a statement.

“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.”

13 Reasons Why is rated MA 15+ in Australia. It is based off the New York Times bestselling young adult novel of the same name.

It is understood the show’s executive producers consulted with several mental health professionals during production. Meanwhile, the show’s more explicit episodes contain a content warning at the beginning of each episode.

When visiting the drama’s website, there is also a pop-up containing the contact details for the relevant crisis counselling services.

Reaction to the TV series has been mixed online. Some have praised the show for bringing a discussion about youth suicide into the mainstream, while others have slammed it for being “irresponsible”. “13 Reasons Why” might be the most irresponsible tv program in history.??? General Bonkerz (@GeneralBonkerz) April 18, 201713 Reasons Why is fine if youre watching from Clays pov but if you’ve dealt with suicide/depression and relate to Hannah it’s kinda terrible??? Thalia Cruz (@asdfghjkliaa) April 18, [email protected] is probably one of the most socially irresponsible shows on air right now. Completely infuriating.??? Katarina (@Katarina_MV) April 17, 2017Wow #13reasonwhy .. I’m just so thankful someone made a educational and realistic show to make an important point and spread awareness ??? em (@thisisemilymcd) April 18, 2017Finished #13reasonwhy-so surreal to see the truths behind teen suicide #ThirteenReasonsWhy#somanyemotions#bepresent#bekind??? Shelby Dawson (@Shelby__Dawson) April 18, 2017


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