Barb From 'Stranger Things' Posts '13 Reasons Why' Warning
Just several weeks after it began streaming on Netflix, "13 Reasons Why" is one of the most talked about shows of 2017.
The series tells the story of high school student Hannah Baker, who takes her own life after recording 13 tapes dedicated to the individuals who she feels played key roles in her decision.
"13 Reasons Why" received well-deserved critical acclaim and has understandably struck a deeply emotional chord with many viewers.
But some mental health experts have expressed concerns that it may glorify suicide for at-risk teens.
An actress who was once one of those at-risk teens has weighed in. "Stranger Things" star Shannon Purser, who played Barb on the Netflix series, explained why "13 Reasons Why" isn't for everyone.
As she points out, the show contains two sexual assault scenes that could potentially bring up painful emotions for survivors, and the series culminates with a graphic depiction of Hannah's suicide.
"13 Reasons Why" is a tough watch for anyone, and Purser is certainly not suggesting that we look away or avoid it simply because the subject matter is upsetting. Rather, she wants to warn her fans (many of whom are likely teenagers) that it may not be the best addition to their Netflix queue if they're dealing with mental illness, suicidal ideation, or the aftermath of a sexual assault.
Purser later clarified her comments by emphasizing that it's an important watch and amazing show — she just wants at-risk viewers to proceed with caution.
Purser's points are consistent with what's been stated by some mental health professionals. Australian mental health organization Headspace expressed concerns that the show's depiction of Hannah's suicide method could have a negative impact on certain viewers.
However, it's important to note that "13 Reasons Why" showrunner Brian Yorkey consulted with four mental health experts while making the series — so professionals have differing viewpoints on the matter.
“We worked very hard not to be gratuitous, but we did want it to be painful to watch because we wanted it to be very clear that there is nothing, in any way, worthwhile about suicide," Yorkey told Entertainment Weekly.
"13 Reasons Why" is an amazing series that sheds light on incredibly important issues that are often considered taboo to discuss. But, Purser's point is a valid one — it's perfectly OK to skip everyone's latest TV obsession if you're struggling with suicidal thoughts, self harm, or the trauma of a sexual assault.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Citations: Mental health org and 'Stranger Things' star send warnings about '13 Reasons Why' (Mashable), Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' Is Most Tweeted About Show of 2017 (Variety), Headspace Says Netflix's New Show About Suicide Is 'Dangerous' (Huffington Post Australia), '13 Reasons Why' depicts a graphic suicide; experts say there's a problem with that (Chicago Tribune), 13 Reasons Why team explains why they showed Hannah's death (Entertainment Weekly)