Youth mental health organisation headspace has expressed serious concerns about the depiction of suicide in a popular online television series.
In a letter issued to media, headspace school support national manager Kristen Douglas said the organisation’s school support program and its online and phone counselling service eheadspace had received an increasing number of calls and emails directly related to Netflix series 13 Reasons Why since its March release.
Ms Douglas said the depiction of the suicide of a young woman presented viewers with “very confronting and graphic imagery”, including methods and means.
“The show exposes viewers to risky suicide content and may lead to a distressing reaction by the viewer particularly if the audience is children and young people,” she said.
Ms Douglas said research had shown that such exposure led to increased risk of suicide and suicide contagion.
Suicide contagion refers to a process where a suicide or suicidal act within a community or greographical area will increase the likelihood that others will attempt or die by suicide.
“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,” she said.
Ms Douglas said the organisation urged school communities, parents and mental health services to be aware of the risks for young people exposed to the content.
Comment has been sought from Netflix.
The organisation also has resources for parents, schools and mental health services to help them assist young people in distress.