The controversy surrounding 13 Reasons Why has heightened after it emerged that some US schools are warning parents about the Netflix show.
Executive produced by Selena Gomez, 13 Reasons Why launched on the streaming service on March 31. It tells the story of a teenage girl who reveals the reasons she committed suicide through a series of tapes sent to members of her peer group.
Last week, an Australian mental health charity warned that 13 Reasons Why contains “dangerous content”. Actress Shannon Purser – Barb from Stranger Things – has said she thinks the show isn’t suitable for some more vulnerable viewers.
Now more warnings are being sent out about 13 Reasons Why, which is already the most tweeted-about show of the year. A letter sent to parents of pupils at 11 public schools in Montclair County, New Jersey reads: “While the show is fictional, the series is extremely graphic, including several rape scenes, and raises significant concerns about the emotional safety of those watching it.”
Andrew Evangelista, Montclair Public Schools District’s mental health and harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) Coordinator, told ABC News that he decided to write the warning letter after watching the show.
“It just didn’t seem right,” Evangelista said. There were a lot of questions I had, about how the girl was portrayed and the lack of mental health resources that were available to her.”
The show’s writer has already responded to criticism of the way it portrays suicide.
“When it came time to discuss the portrayal of the protagonist’s suicide in 13 Reasons Why, I of course immediately flashed on my own experience,” writer Nic Scheff said. “It seemed to me the perfect opportunity to show what an actual suicide really looks like – to dispel the myth of the quiet drifting off, and to make viewers face the reality of what happens when you jump from a burning building into something much, much worse.”