When Netflix released 13 Reasons Why last year its depiction of teen suicide and abuse was criticised for being graphic, unnecessary, and putting young people at risk emotionally without providing them proper access to support services.
The series followed teenager Hannah Baker, who leaves behind 13 cassette tapes detailing why she decided to take her own life, and how the actions of her classmates and teachers weren’t enough to prevent her from believing she had to do it.
Last month Netflix announced season 2 would begin streaming on May 18, with Hannah ‘returning’ to see her friends deal with grief and the aftermath of losing her to suicide.
The news caused alarm bells to ring with parents and mental health experts, including the team at the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Headspace. This year they’ve collaborated with Netflix to provide resources for young people and their carers to talk about the themes raised in the show in a safe, informed environment.
Headspace Senior Clinical Advisor Nick Duigan previewed season 2 of 13 Reasons Why and says, “Suicide is an ongoing theme; other themes that are likely to be distressing include content around grief, bullying, sexual assault, drug use, and violence. They really are pretty heavy hitting.”
“It’s about creating an environment where these conversations can happen,”
Whether young people and their families choose to watch the show will be for them to decide, but Nick’s advice for those that do is to take breaks between episodes, be informed about what conversations may arise, and understand how to handle them.
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“It’s about creating an environment where these conversations can happen,” says Nick. “A lot of the time it’s really important that they happen at a time where there’s not distress or any friction in the relationship.”
“Do it collaboratively, be respectful, and look at enhancing the young person’s ability to think critically about what it is that they’re seeing,” Nick says. “So knowing that this is dramatised, it’s a fictional series made for entertainment, knowing that different people will take different meanings and understandings out of the content depending on their life experiences. [They need] to know how to get support if they are impacted by it.”
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Help Line on 1800 55 18 00 or
- 000 if it is an emergency.