Tonight at 7.01pm Season 2 of the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why will be released worldwide.
The Mental Health Foundation has viewed Season 2 and provided advice to the Chief Censor regarding a rating for the show.
Season 1 of the show featured a 17-year-old girl named Hannah Baker who died by suicide. Each episode featured a different ‘reason’ that she took her life.
Season 2 features a court case between Hannah Baker’s parents and school, exploring who, if anyone, was at fault for Hannah’s suicide. It features graphic scenes of violence, especially sexual violence, as well as bullying, drug-taking and further discussion of suicide.
The Foundation remains particularly concerned about some of the messages about suicide in the show. Adults supporting vulnerable young people should be aware of messages in 13 Reasons Why that present suicide as a form of revenge, romanticise suicide and suggest those who die by suicide can return from the dead to intervene in the lives of those they left behind. These messages are not helpful from a suicide prevention perspective and may influence vulnerable viewers to form an intention to take their own lives.
The Foundation is also worried about the impact of graphic scenes of rape and sexual violence which may also be triggering for some viewers.
However, the Foundation does not recommend banning the show. Young people are likely to find other ways to watch it and will feel unable to ask for help if they are troubled or distressed by what they have seen.
The Foundation also acknowledges most viewers are not vulnerable and will not need extra support after watching the show. Most young viewers will understand the show is a dramatic fiction.
However, 20% of viewers will have experienced a mental health problem in the last year, and a significant number are likely to have been sexually assaulted or bereaved by suicide. For these people, viewing 13 Reasons Why may be a deeply distressing or traumatising experience.
The Foundation places the utmost priority on protecting the safety of vulnerable young people. Portrayals of suicide on screen present a known risk to some viewers, and the Foundation is working to ensure their interests are served and support is available to them.
When Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why was released, young people repeatedly said they felt the show realistically portrayed the issues they face every day, and statistics and research support this.
New Zealand has the second highest rate of school bullying in the OECD and the highest rate of youth suicide. One in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.
The release of Season 2 presents us with an opportunity to talk with young people about the challenges they are experiencing and work together to find solutions.
With support from agencies such as the Office of Film and Literature Classification, ACC, The Ministries of Health and Education, Le Va, Te Rau Matatini and the New Zealand Police, the Mental Health Foundation has built a place on its website with advice and resources for viewers of 13 Reasons Why and anyone who is concerned about someone watching the show.
We’ve included advice about how to have difficult conversations, specific resources for a number of challenging topics and information about what to do if you’re worried about someone. Following the release of the show the website will also include an episode guide, series overview and discussion guide. Visit the 13 Reasons Why pages.
Note to media:
The Foundation advises media that when reporting on the show they should remain mindful of vulnerable people who may need support and advice. Please do not air, play or publish photos of graphic scenes from the show. Please adapt helplines to encompass the scope of the topics explored in 13 Reasons Why.
For further information or comment, please contact:
Communications & Marketing Manager
Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
021 740 454