health

Mental health experts have issued a strong warning about the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why.

The final episode of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has divided critics for its graphic scene of 17 year old character Hannah Baker committing suicide.

Experts, mental health advocates and general viewers have expressed their disappointment and worry that such a detailed depiction could have dangerous consequences.

Now national youth mental health foundation Headspace has issued a warning, following growing concerns raised by schools, parents and young people across Australia since the show aired in late March.

Listen: The Binge team argues about whether 13 Reasons Why is powerful or problematic. Post continues below. 

Both the national headpsace School Support Program, which supports school communities in the aftermath of a suicide, and eheadspace, the national online and over-the-phone counselling service has reportedly received a number of calls and emails in regards to 13 Reasons Why.

The concern lies with the “confronting and graphic messaging and imagery inclusive of suicide method and means.”

According to Kirsten Douglas, National Manager of headspace School Support, the content can cause distress to viewers, particularly if the audience is children and young people.

13-reasons-why-Hannah
Image: 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," she said in a statement.

Already, eheadspace clinicians have been dealing with a "steady stream" of concerned parents and young people.

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“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,” Head of eheadspace Dr Steven Leicester said. (Post continues after gallery.)

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So what should you do?

Headspace School Support and eheadspace is urging school communities, parents and mental health services to be aware of the risks associated for young people who have been exposed to the content in the show.

You can find plenty of guidelines and fact sheets on the headspace website, including how to manage social media following a suicide, how a young person might respond to a suicide and how to talk about suicide with a young person.

In talking about the subject with children, eheadspace advises giving accurate information about why people suicide, avoiding blame, avoiding details of method, address feelings such as anger and responsibility, encourage help-seeking and ask if the person is having any suicidal thoughts.

If you, or a young person you know, is struggling with symptoms of mental illness please contact your local headspace centre here or chat to them online,here. If you are over the age of 25 and suffering from symptoms of mental illness please contact your local GP for a Mental Health Assessment Plan or callLifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

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