Sunday 22 October 2017

Netflix officials defend 13 Reasons Why against claims it glamourises suicide

Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford in 13 Reasons Why
Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford in 13 Reasons Why
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Producers behind Selena Gomez's new TV series 13 Reasons Why have dismissed allegations suggesting the teen drama glamourises suicide.

The singer/actress helped to develop author Jay Asher's 2007 bestseller of the same name, about a bullied high school student who takes her own life, for streaming service Netflix, and the show debuted online last month.

13 Reasons Why, which stars acting newcomer Katherine Langford as tragic teen Hannah Baker, has become a big hit for Netflix, but suicide prevention activists argue the series does little to help those actually struggling with mental health issues, because there is no link made between the main character and her issues with severe depression, and no suggestions for "viable alternatives" to suicide.

"There is a great concern that I have... that young people are going to over-identify with Hannah in the series, and we actually may see more suicides as a result of this television series," Dan Reidenberg, executive director for Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), tells ABC News.

The scenes depicting Baker's suicide are shown in graphic detail before her lifeless body is found by her parents.

"My thoughts about the series are that it's probably done more harm than any good," Reidenberg adds. "There should be no reason, no justification whatsoever, why any kind of production - entertainment or news - would be so descriptive and so graphic."

The show's producers explained their reasons for making the emotional show in an accompanying feature, titled Beyond the Reasons, in which Gomez says, "We wanted to do it in a way where it was honest, and we wanted to make something that it (sic) can hopefully help people because suicide should never ever be an option."

Netflix officials have since also defended the show against criticism, insisting extra care was taken over the sensitive subject, with suicide prevention resources and information on crisis hotlines provided to viewers on a sister website.

In a statement released to ABC News, bosses declare: "We support the unflinching vision of the show's creators, who engaged the careful advice of medical professionals in the scriptwriting process."

Gomez herself has yet to comment on the backlash.

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