One year after the controversial series 13 Reasons Why debuted on the streaming platform, generating heated debates among parents and mental health experts, Netflix is taking actions to warn sensitive viewers about the “tough topics in the show and where to go if they need help” as its second season arrives in a few months.
In a minute-long video featuring actors Katherine Langford, Dylan Minnette, Alisha Boe and Justin Prentice, Netflix aims to caution members of the audience about the difficult themes explored through every episode of the series.
“13 Reasons Why is a series that tackles tough, real-world issues, taking a look at sexual assault, substance abuse, suicide and more,” Prentice begins, followed by the rest of the cast adding their voices to the message. “By shading a light on this difficult topics, we hope our show can help viewers start a conversation. But if you are struggling with these issues yourself, this series may not be right for you, or you may want to watch it with a trusted adult.”
Released and already implemented to every episode of the available first season of 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, the video comes as a responsible move from the streaming giant after growing concerns regarding the show’s possible negative effects on young viewers’ mental health, particularly those who suffer from depression.
“After the Season 1 launch, we saw global conversation explode on the controversial topics covered by the series and understood we had a responsibility to support these important discussions,” reads a press release from Netflix published today titled A Conversation About 13 Reasons Why.
During the spring of 2017, 13 Reasons Why, a series about a teenage girl who killed herself and recorded the 13 reasons that convinced her to commit suicide on audio tapes, was the center of attention. Although it was meant to “be a powerful agent for change,” many parents, teachers and mental health associations expressed divided opinions with regard to the fact that being exposed to “graphic or sensationalized accounts of death” could represent a “risk factors that youth struggling with mental health conditions cite as a reason they contemplate or attempt suicide.” The controversy was such in some countries that New Zealand even created a brand new rating that forbid viewers under 18 to watch the show without adult supervision.
To understand the effect of 13 Reasons Why on young audiences, Netflix revealed it commissioned a global study with Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development, which found that “71% of teens and young adults found the show relatable, and nearly three-quarters of teen and young adult viewers said the show made them feel more comfortable processing tough topics.”
The research also indicated that “parents felt that while the show brought up important topics, they wanted more resources from us.” Therefore, to respond to their concerns, Netflix created not only the custom intro above in which actors come out of character to discuss how to get support, but also a viewing guide on 13ReasonsWhy.Info to help parents and teens start these tough conversations.
“Now – more than ever – we are seeing the power and compassion of this generation advocating on behalf of themselves and their peers,” ends the press release signed by Brian Wright, Vice President of Original Series.