When entertainment could turn deadly....
Rape and sexual assault are criminal offences in Australia.
Suicide is a tragic act that leaves a trail of devastation behind.
Yet if your child or young person has been watching the latest Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why", they will have been exposed to graphic depictions of rape and sexual assault in some episodes and what Headspace (Australia's national youth mental health foundation) has called risky suicide content.
"People have said the show has triggered their own vulnerabilities and made them consider whether suicide is a possible option for them," Kirsten Douglas, Headspace's national manager of school support said.
Letting our teenagers watch material that makes them consider suicide as an option? Not wise. Studies are still being undertaken to discover the link between youth exposure to suicide and the imitative effect it possibly has. The copycat effect which can occur after youth are exposed to detailed suicide information is alarming and potentially fatal.
Yet in the absence of education on the topic or any notable experience working in the field of youth mental health, 24 year old executive producer of the series, Selena Gomez says of teenagers viewing the series:
“They have to see something that’s going to shake them. They have to see something that’s frightening and follow these people. I want them to understand it."
There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that viewing "graphic depictions of rape and sexual assault" and opening our minds to the option of teen suicide is a mentally healthy practise for any teenager. The question must also be asked, if the show needs to be rated so strongly with warnings given about the distressing nature of the content, if it's healthy material for any adult to be viewing.