13 Reasons Why – Season 2 Disturbing to Mental Health Experts

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13 Reasons Why

Season 1 of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” enjoyed critical acclaim and high viewer ratings. At the same time, it was met with serious concern by mental health experts who feared that the graphic depiction of suicide was dangerous for younger viewers. With the release of the second season, the show has caused even more concerns with graphic exploration of gun violence, substance abuse and sexual assault- a veritable Wild West of schooling and subjects if you will.

Based on the best-selling 2007 novel by Jay Asher, season one of the Netflix show focused on the suicide of a high-school student Hannah Baker. The story unfolds through a series of audiotapes heard by her friend Clay Jensen. The graphic description of Hannah’s suicide left parents and mental health experts concerned with how the ideas would be received. It was thought that teens and at-risk youth would see self-hand and suicide as a type of revenge fantasy and something to be admired. It turns out; this was not an unfounded idea as the number of suicide searches increased dramatically after the show’s initial release.

Self-Harm Still an Issue

Now, with the release of the second season of the controversial show, experts have a whole new set of concerns to cover. In the latest season, the show focuses on how the high school students are coping with the death of one of their own. The episodes are depicted as part of a civil trial initiated by Hannah’s parents against the school. From there, more plot lines develop including an attempted school shooting. Netflix apparently cancelled their second season premier party after a school shooting occurred in Texas leaving 10 people dead.

According to experts, the way the show handled the school shooting scene in the season 2 finale was particularly disturbing. In this episode, two of the students learn of the potential attack and confront the student themselves without informing the police. The idea of confronting a person with a gun who is clearly suffering from mental issues is not one that should be recommended by anyone except trained professionals. It is comparable to letting your little ones loose with a credit card and an open tab on an Australian sports betting site.

Netflix Responds

Another concerning issue in season two is the return of Hannah in spirit form as she “watches over” her friend. This is not because she is a ghost, but rather the fact that it is telling the youth that if they do commit suicide, they might be able to return to watch over their friends and family. This just adds to the desirability of suicide as a whole and is a superstition that needs to be debunked.

Overall the reaction to season 2 has been mixed.  While the first season ended with positive ratings, from both critics and viewers, the second edition debuted with a 37% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Since being released, schools have sent out warning to parents about the potentially disturbing content. For their part, Netflix has taken steps to address these issues adding a pre-show feature with the actors and a downloadable discussion series. There is also a second edition of “Beyond the Reasons” with more explanations of the show and how to get help. Netflix has also installed a PIN lock for the show for parents who want to watch the show before they allow their children access.