Many Say '13 Reasons Why' Is Dangerous; Netflix Wants To Change That

Netflix recently announced the series' second season would feature pre-episode warnings and more resources for viewers.
Posted at 1:08 PM, Jun 05, 2018

When it first came out in 2017, Netflix original "13 Reasons Why" ushered in a national conversation about the portrayals of suicide in the media. Much of that conversation was in opposition to the show's handling of sensitive topics.

It's still unclear the exact impacts — negative or positive — the show has on teens, but Netflix is hoping to address that.

Netflix announced Tuesday the show's sophomore season will play a message from its cast — one that warns viewers about its heavy subject matter — at the beginning of every episode.

And the streaming company's efforts go beyond the pre-episode message. In a Netflix-commissioned study by Northwestern University, many surveyed viewers said they wanted "13 Reasons Why" to offer more resources on the topics discussed on the show.

In response, Netflix created 13reasonswhy.info — a companion website full of resources about suicide prevention, mental health, bullying, substance abuse and sexual assault.

These efforts may ease some critics' worries, but for others, the issue with '13 Reasons Why' wasn't just the lack of warnings or resources. It was the show itself and its effect on vulnerable audiences.

In a briefing about the series, the International Association for Suicide Prevention said '13 Reasons Why' had "elements of glorifying and romanticizing suicide," but no positive solutions or means of intervention.

One particularly graphic scene was the main character's suicide. Although director Kyle Patrick Alvarez said he didn't want to romanticize it, research shows that detailed portrayals of suicide dramatically increase the risk of it, down to the same method portrayed on screen.

Some parents have blamed the series for their teenage daughters' suicides, and some mental health professionals have seen a "significant uptick" in teen hospitalizations. But other viewers have said the show helped them open up about their own issues in life.

Experts from the National Association of School Psychologists stress that thoughtful conversations between kids, teens and adults is vital. For parents and school staff concerned about the effects of the show, the association says school psychologists and mental health professionals can help.

If you need to talk to someone about suicide prevention, contact these organizations:

— The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

— or text "HOME" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.