Netflix Series '13 Reasons Why' Blamed for Spike in Calls to Suicide Helplines

Australian researchers say the Selena Gomez-produced series "exposes viewers to risky suicide content"
Netflix Series '13 Reasons Why' Blamed for Spike in Calls to Suicide Helplines
Late last month, Netflix debuted the original series 13 Reasons Why. Geared towards teens, the show was produced by Selena Gomez. It follows the aftermath of the suicide of 17-year-old Hannah Baker, who has left behind 13 cassette messages for people she claims are responsible for her death. Naturally, the show's theme has been the source of some controversy, but now it appears to be having real-life consequences.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a number of Australian mental health organizations say there has been a steady increase in calls to suicide helplines since the show was released.

Kristen Douglas, national manager of Australia's Headspace, said the show "exposes viewers to risky suicide content," adding, "National and international research clearly indicates the very real impact and risk to harmful suicide exposure leading to increased risk and possible suicide contagion. People have said the show has triggered their own vulnerabilities and made them consider whether suicide is a possible option for them."

Further, Douglas said "if you talk about suicide harmfully, it will lead to further harm. It's far more likely for young people to connect with this content and think it's the answer for them." She added that the show includes "very confronting and graphic messaging and imagery inclusive of suicide method and means."

Jaelea Skehan, director of the Australian mental health initiative Mindframe, agrees with Douglas. She laid out all of the ways the show is potentially harmful in a lengthy piece called "Six reasons why I'm concerned about a TV series," which can be read here.

The series is one of the year's most-watched shows in Australia.