Teenagers in New Zealand will only be able to watch the Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why with an adult, after the content of the controversial show raised concerns.
The series, which centres around teenager Hannah who commits suicide and the impact it has on the classmates she blames for her death, has been a huge success, but it has received criticism from mental health charities.
It was given an 18 rating in the UK by the British Board of Film Classification “for sexual violence, strong bloody images, suicide scene” but in New Zealand, the Office of Film & Literature Classification has created a new category especially for the show, which will now be known as RP18.
— ClassificationOffice (@NZOFLC) April 27, 2017
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of suicide in the developed world and officials there said that is the reason for the higher rating, which means only those aged 18 and older can watch it, unless supervised by an adult.
The office said: “The most immediate concern for the Classification Office is how teen suicide is discussed and shown in 13 Reasons Why.
“Hannah’s suicide is presented fatalistically. Her death is represented at times as not only a logical, but an unavoidable outcome of the events that follow.
“Suicide should not be presented to anyone as being the result of clear-headed thinking.
“Suicide is preventable, and most people who experience suicidal thoughts are not thinking rationally and therefore cannot make logical decisions.
“13 Reasons Why does not follow international guidelines for responsible representations of suicide.
“The scene depicting Hannah’s suicide is graphic, and explicit about the method of suicide she uses, to the point where it could be considered instructional.”
Netflix is reportedly poised to renew the show, which is executive-produced by Selena Gomez and her mother, for a second series.
A source told The Hollywood Reporter that a writers’ room for new episodes has been up and running for a few weeks.
— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) March 29, 2017
Australian actress Katherine Langford, who plays Hannah, told the Press Association in March it was important to her that the show did not appear to glamorise suicide.
Her co-star Dylan Minnette, who plays central character Clay Jensen, said: “You care about Hannah so much and you’re so heartbroken, I’m not worried at all about that (glamorising suicide). They found the perfect way to tell the story.”
The on-demand streaming service has also posted videos on social media for anyone who may need help.
— 13 Reasons Why (@13ReasonsWhy) March 31, 2017
In one of the videos, Gomez explains: “We wanted to make something that could hopefully help people because suicide should never, ever be an option.”
The show’s creator Brian Yorkey said: “If someone watching this is feeling like their life doesn’t have worth, I hope that you see around Hannah in this show all the people who care about her and know that there are those people in your life as well.”
The message is followed by a website link which contains details of organisations around the globe that can provide help, listing the Samaritans in the UK.