13 reasons we should be worried about this series
IT WAS not until the teenagers in my house were well into the new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, that I realised what the whole thing was about: suicide, and the reasons why the main character (a teenage girl) decides to kill herself.
Coming from the media, where we are ethically obliged to proceed with great caution on deaths that "have no suspicious circumstances” for fear of inducing more suicides in vulnerable people, I was shocked that someone could produce such a television show and then aim it squarely at teenagers.
Apparently it is quite an exceptional show. Riveting even, according to one fan who binge-watched it over Easter. It's rated MA15 but I think R would have been more appropriate.
Based on a book by Jay Asher, the US show depicts the suicide of the young woman who leaves behind a series of messages on cassette tapes, devoting each to a different reason why she wanted to die.
Australian mental health organisation headspace has rightly expressed concern at the exposure of such "risky suicide content” to young people who could have a "distressing reaction”. It is already experiencing an increase in calls and emails directly related to it, it says. At my place, one teen is outraged that such a show was ever made, while another thought it was the best thing he'd seen in a long time.