Two days after the mental health organization Headspace condemned 13 Reasons Why for its "risky," "distressing," and "irresponsible" portrayal of suicide, another organization has stepped forward to caution schools about the importance of supporting students who may be at risk for suicide.
The National Association of School Psychologists published a report on Thursday stating, "We do not recommend that vulnerable youth, especially those who have any degree of suicidal ideation, watch this series. Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies."
The report acknowledges that the show is not likely to be triggering to all viewers, adding, "While many youth are resilient and capable of differentiating between a TV drama and real life, engaging in thoughtful conversations with them about the show is vital."
NASP encourages schools to take warning signs of depression and suicide seriously, and to remind students that mental health professionals are always available to help.
The show's cast and crew have addressed its controversial portrayal of suicide.
In Netflix's behind-the-scenes-special Beyond The Reasons, showrunner Brian Yorkey explained that "we worked very hard not to be gratuitous, but we did want it to be painful to watch, because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing, in any way, worthwhile about suicide."
Actor Tommy Dorfman told Seventeen.com, "In the book, Hannah takes pills, and I think the reason for changing that was to make sure that it didn't look like suicide was an easy out. I think it was important to show every step of it, to show how gruesome it really can be and how painful it is. There was a cut [of that scene] that was a very short version, that more alludes to suicide, and then Hannah's dead. But it didn't hold the same weight as showing the step by step of it. I think beating around the bush wouldn't be useful."
If you're struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or use their Lifeline Crisis Chat, both available 24/7.
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