A controversial Netflix series about teen suicide is more “entertainment” than education, renowned youth mental health expert Patrick McGorry has warned.
Professor McGorry said while the online show, 13 Reasons Why, was well-intentioned, the storyline and messages did not ring true.
“It’s a drama; it’s entertainment really,” the former Australian of the Year said.
“The show tends to romanticise suicide and did a lot of things wrong.”
Professor McGorry said one of the most concerning aspects of the series was how it negatively depicted the people who were available to help when someone was at risk of suicide, such as counsellors.
“It presented them in an ineffectual light and showed the young woman didn’t have an option.”
Youth mental health organisations across Australia, including headspace, have raised serious concerns about the graphic content and portrayal of suicide in the Netflix series.
In a letter issued to media, headspace school support national manager Kristen Douglas said there had been an increasing number of calls and emails directly related to 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.
However many parents and young people have praised aspects of the show in comments on TheBorder Mail’s Facebook page.
Some parents said they watched the series with their children and, while acknowledging the content was “confronting”, believed it raised important issues around bullying, depression and how your behaviour could affect others.
Former Griffith resident Carli Cox, whose son Mitchell took his life in 2014 at 21 years of age, commended the show for encouraging teenagers to talk about depression.
Ms Cox, who now lives in Albury, said 13 Reasons Why raised talking points around a very serious issue.
Professor McGorry agrees the series is a good platform from which to open discussions with young people.
“It’s already out there and teens are watching Netflix, so let’s talk about it.”
If you need help, call:
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
- MensLine: 1300 78 99 78
... Teens are watching Netflix, so let’s talk about it.Professor Patrick McGorry