Last year, Netflix’s adaption of the book 13 Reasons Why stirred up controversy. The show is about a high school girl who commits suicide. She sends audio tapes to the people she says played a role in her decision. The show prompted the American National Association of School Psychologists and even local school boards to issue warnings about the show.
The CBC reported:
How truth is perceived might be part of the problem, experts warn. The main character is able to make her voice heard after she’s dead, “experiencing the success of revenge or making people realize the things that they had done,” according to Katherine Cowan from the American National Association of School Psychologists. That unrealistic sense of reward could also be a trigger factor for others potentially at risk, she said.
The character blames other people for her decision, and the underlying causes of depression and mental illness aren’t clearly addressed, she adds. It’s what prompted NASP to issue a serious warning to educators, parents and “vulnerable youth” about the series when it was released.
In the wake of the controversy, Netflix commissioned a study with Northwestern University’s Centre on Media and Human Development.
Here are some of the seemingly positive highlights:
- 71% of teens and young adults found the show relatable, and nearly three-quarters of teen and young adult viewers said the show made them feel more comfortable processing tough topics.
- More than 50% reached out to someone to apologize for how they had treated them.
- Nearly 75% of teens said that they tried to be more considerate about how they treated others after watching the show.
- Two-thirds of parents asked to have the cast come out of character to discuss how to get support.
- More than half of parents want more guidance from mental health experts.
Because of the results of the study, Netflix has made some changes including a new introduction that cautions viewers and a new after show featuring the actors, experts and educators. They have also set up a website that includes episode guides, 13ReasonsWhy.Info
Netflix also created a video called Tell Them where viewers talk about how the show changed their lives.
Season 2 of the show will be released later this year.