Netflix is ramping up its warning labels for its controversial series 13 Reasons Why after being hit with a barrage of concerns from the mental health awareness community.
The show, which features graphic depictions of suicide, among other triggering scenes, has been accused by psychological experts and mental heath advocates of being potentially dangerous for young people with suicidal ideations and has spurred a series of conversations about the potential social impact of its difficult content.
In response to the backlash, Netflix has revealed its plans to increase warnings through the 13-episode series — it'd previously been rated TV-MA for mature content and contained two episodes with introductory warnings, where sensitive content was contained, that viewer discretion was advised.
The company said in a statement to Buzzfeed, "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."
13 Reasons Why, which is based upon Jay Asher's young adult novel of the same name, has been criticized for glamorizing teen suicide and being too graphic with its portrayals of sexual violence. The show features the story of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a high school teen who kills herself and releases tapes to detail the history of each person who hurt her, in various degrees, before her death.
Screenwriter Nic Sheff recently stepped forward to defend the show's decision to depict her death, a scene which was not contained in Asher's source material, writing in an op-ed for Vanity Fair, "From the very beginning, I agreed that we should depict the suicide with as much detail and accuracy as possible. I even argued for it — relating the story of my own suicide attempt to the other writers. ... It seemed to me the perfect opportunity to show what an actual suicide really looks like — to dispel the myth of the quiet drifting off, and to make viewers face the reality of what happens when you jump from a burning building into something much, much worse."
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime for a confidential conversation with a trained counselor.