Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why has inspired fierce debate and incited warnings from mental health experts for it's portrayal of lead character Hannah Baker's suicide, and the thirteen reasons she chose to take her own life.
The story is told from Hannah's perspective and deals with bullying and sexual assault. Those against the show point to the fear of contagion, the idea that someone with suicidal thoughts could copy what they see. While those for the show argue it's a platform to talk about these issues more honestly.
Mental health organisation Headspace labeled 13 Reasons as "dangerous" following a spike in calls and emails relating directly to the TV show. Which, if you look at this from another perspective is positive, because it means messaging around seeking help and support is working.
In response, Netflix has said in a statement that it stands behind the show, produced by Selena Gomez. "We have been mindful of both the show’s intense themes and the intended audience. We support the unflinching vision of the show’s creators, who engaged the careful advice of medical professionals in the scriptwriting process.”
Dr Rona Hu worked as one of several consultants on 13 Reasons Why, explaining "as a psychiatrist I made suggestions to reflect the many experiences of young people that I have seen in my clinical work."
“It’s good to talk with your teens about what they read, what they watch, the music they listen to and, of course, what’s happening in their lives and with their friends,” Dr Hu explained to NewsCorp.
“Sometimes the things that are not directly related to them are less intimidating than talking about their real lives. One conversation can open up into another. A teen who was witnessed bullying might be able to open more easily in talking about a fictional character.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Headspace on 1800 650 890.