Netflix has belatedly upped the viewer discretion warnings on 13 Reasons Why, which tackles teen suicide.
“While many of our members find the show to be a valuable driver for starting important conversation with their families, we have also heard concern from those who feel the series should carry additional advisories,” Netflix said in a statement.
“Currently the episodes that carry graphic content are identified as such and the series overall carries a TV-MA rating. Moving forward, we will add an additional viewer warning card before the first episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series and have also strengthened the messaging and resource language in the existing cards for episodes that contain graphic subject matter, including the URL 13ReasonsWhy.info — a global resource center that provides information about professional organizations that support help around the serious matters addressed in the show.”
Series creator Brian Yorkey recently defended the graphic nature of Hannah’s suicide, “As difficult as it is to watch, it should be difficult to watch. If we make it easy to watch, then we’re selling goods we didn’t want to sell.”
But criticisms extend to the level the graphic content, concerns that it glorifies suicide and does not offer a real alternative.
Some US school officials have sent letters to parents warning them about what their children may be watching. Mental health advocates have also expressed concerns that the series is widely available to children of all ages and that it could lead to a “copycat” effect of suicide.
Selena Gomez, one of the producers, said, “We wanted to do it in a way where it was honest, and we wanted to make something that can, hopefully, help people, because suicide should never, ever be an option.”