Written by PTC | Published April 23, 2018
If you need help, or know somebody you think is in need of help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org and Click to ChatFor these reasons, Dan Reidenberg, a psychologist and executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education – whom Netflix had contacted prior to airing the series – advised Netflix not to show the program. “But that wasn't an option. That was made very clear to me. And although [13 Reasons Why] has created a conversation about suicide, it's not the right conversation," Reidenberg says, voicing concerns that teens will see suicide as a glamorous solution for their problems, as the show’s protagonist does. In short, Netflix ignored the very expert they consulted…with tragic results for teens. In the run-up to season two, Netflix has desperately engaged in damage control, adding a “warning video” and “aftershow” with discussions about the program, and resources such as suicide hotline phone numbers, to 13 Reasons Why. Yet even now, it continues to market the first season to teenagers – while still rating the program TV-MA (mature audiences only). A public service announcement about the program, currently airing before the first season episodes, acknowleges as much: Dylan Minnette: “ Hi, I’m Dylan Minnette and I play Clay Jensen.” Katherine Langford: “I’m Katherine Langford and I play Hannah Baker.” Justin Prentice: “I’m Justin Prentice, I play Bryce Walker.” Alicia Bowe: “I’m Alicia Bowe, I play Jessica Davis. ” Justin: “13 Reasons Why is a fictional series that tackles tough, real world issues; taking a look at sexual assault, substance abuse, suicide, and more. ” Katherine: “By shedding a light on these difficult topics, we hope our show can help viewers start a conversation.” Alicia: “But if you are struggling with these issues yourself, this series may not be right for you. Or you may want to watch it with a trusted adult.” Dylan: “And if you ever feel you need someone to talk with, reach out to a parent, a friend, a school counselor, or an adult you trust; call a local helpline, or go to 13ReasonsWhy.info.” Alicia: “Because the minute you start talking about it, it gets easier.” On-Screen Message: ”If you or someone you know needs help finding crisis resources, visit 13ReasonsWhy.Info” But while the 13ReasonsWhy.Info website provides a list of resources, including counselors, mental health experts, and suicide prevention sites…yet, at the bottom of the webpage, there is a disclaimer stating that “Netflix does not endorse any of the organizations or health professionals listed herein.” We can understand why some people are supportive of 13 Reasons Why. It is a powerful drama, which does raise important questions. But we also see the harm that can – and has – come from marketing such a dark, depressing program directly to children, while bypassing parents and without adequate safeguards. Ultimately, there was no message of hope in 13 Reasons Why. The message was one of despair…and teens listened. Had there been a message of hope, several teenagers might still be alive today. The PTC was one of the first to warn parents about 13 Reasons Why. Over the past year, we have pushed Netflix very, very hard for positive changes, and we are gratified to see that Netflix has already adopted a few of our recommendations; but we do not think they have gone nearly far enough, and we will keep pushing for even stronger protections…Because Our Children Are Watching.