Headspace issues warning over graphic Netflix series 13 Reasons Why

DEBATE: Perth actress Katherine Langford stars in 13 Reasons Why. Photo: Netflix
DEBATE: Perth actress Katherine Langford stars in 13 Reasons Why. Photo: Netflix

One of Australia's peak mental health organisations has issued a warning about graphic scenes in the new Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why.

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.

Kristen Douglas National Manager for headspace School Support said many of the national online and phone counselling the service has received directly related to the program.

“The show exposes viewers to risky suicide content and may lead to a distressing reaction by the viewer particularly if the audience is children and young people,” she said in a statement. 

In the series, Clay Jensen finds cassette tapes left by dead teenager Hannah Baker. Photo: Netflix

In the series, Clay Jensen finds cassette tapes left by dead teenager Hannah Baker. Photo: Netflix

“National and international research clearly indicates the very real impact and risk to harmful suicide exposure, leading to increased risk and possible suicide contagion.

“Clinicians working for eheadspace have been dealing with a steady stream of concerned parents and young people since the show first aired.

“There is a responsibility for broadcasters to know what they are showing and the impact that certain content can have on an audience – and on a young audience in particular.

“headspace School Support and eheadspace is urging school communities, parents, and mental health services to be aware of the dangers and risks associated for children and young people who have been exposed to this content.”

headspace has 99 centres across Australia, for details visit www.headspace.org.au.

If you are aged 12 to 25 and having a tough time, visit Nowra headspace at 51 North Street, Nowra or phone 4421 5388.

Other resources available include: 

Lifeline 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

BeyondBlue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au

Mensline 1300 789 978

KidsHelpline 1800 551 800