Teen Netflix show prompts warnings from mental health professionals

13 Reasons Why has sparked concern from the Mental Health Foundation and the chief censor.

New Zealand mental health professionals have called a new Netflix show “unethical” due to its portray of teen suicide and sexual assault.

The streaming service released 13 Reasons Why, an adult-rated, 13-part show about a teenage girl who commits suicide, at the end of March.

It has since become one of the most widely-shared streamed programme ever on social media.

Based on a novel, 13 Reasons Why is the story of Hannah, who leaves behind a tape for each of the 13 people she says caused her life to end.

As well as a three-minute scene of the main character’s death, the show also includes two rape scenes and drug use.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson told RNZ the show is unsafe for young people watching it, and sensationalises the reality of suicide.

“It’s actually quite an unethical programme and it’s really exploiting young people and their concerns, and trivialising topics around mental health and suicide,” he told Morning Report.

Robinson says 13 Reasons Why fails to provide balance to viewers around topics of suicide and sexual assault, and doesn’t suggest any options for getting help and assistance.

The chief censor has requested a classification for the show, after being alerted to the series “strong” content by a member of the public, Office of Film and Literature Classification senior advisor Henry Talbot told Fairfax.

That process is expected to take two weeks.

WATCH: 13 Reasons Why trailer. Story continues after the video…

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Where to get help:

  • Lifeline (open 24/7) – 0800 543 354

  • Depression Helpline (open 24/7) – 0800 111 757

  • Healthline (open 24/7) – 0800 611 116

  • Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

  • Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email [email protected]

For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation’s free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812) or click here to visit their website.

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