I am writing on behalf of headspace to ad- dress growing concerns raised by schools, parents and young people across Australia about some content featured in US Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
The series – which debuted in Australia in late March and is currently streaming on Netflix – depicts a young woman who sui- cides. It presents the viewer with very con- fronting and graphic messaging and image- ry inclusive of suicide method and means.
Since its debut both the national head- space School Support Program, which sup- ports school communities in the aftermath of a suicide, and eheadspace, the national online and over-the-phone counselling ser- vice has received a growing number of calls and emails directly related to the program.
The show exposes viewers to risky sui- cide content and may lead to a distressing reaction by the viewer particularly if the au- dience is children and young people.
National and international research clearly indicates the very real impact and risk to harmful suicide exposure, leading to increased risk and possible suicide conta- gion.
Clinicians working for eheadspace have been dealing with a steady stream of con- cerned parents and young people since the show first aired.
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.
headspace School Support and ehead- space is urging school communities, par- ents, and mental health services to be aware of the dangers and risks associated for children and young people who have been exposed to this content.
The national suicide media initiative, Mindframe, also has significant concerns and warnings related to this content.
Please see the following links for help- ful information for schools, mental health services, and parents if they are aware that children or young people have been ex- posed to the content and have expressed concerns around their own mental health, distress, or suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Kristen Douglas National Manager headspace School Support headspace
Managing social media following a suicide: https://headspace.org.au/assets/Uploads/ Corporate/Managing-social-media-follow- ing-a-suicide-web.pdf
Grief – How a young person might re- spond to a suicide: https://headspace. org.au/assets/Uploads/Corporate/Grief- How-young-people-might-respond-to-a- suicide-web.pdf