Ahead of season 2 of controversial teen suicide drama “13 Reasons Why,” Netflix has announced new sensitivity measures to address the real life issues the show dramatizes. In a statement released by Netflix, the platform said the show has had a positive influence for its young viewers, according to a study commissioned by Netflix. The second season will feature a custom intro at the beginning of each, season, an expanded list of resources on the show’s website, and a new after show special featuring the actors out of character.
When “13 Reasons Why” premiered last April, it was initially hailed as a well-crafted teen drama with a nuanced take on sensitive issues. Slowly, criticism came rolling in that the show based around a teen girl’s suicide note in the form of tapes she left behind could be romanticizing suicide. (IndieWire was one of the first to make this claim). Studies have shown that suicide rates increase with entertainment media depictions, and mental health professionals felt the show did not did offer enough resources.
“Because the series broaches uncomfortable topics, we believed it had the potential to be a powerful agent for change,” Netflix said of the initial rollout. In response to the criticism, Netflix commissioned a study by Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development. According to the study: “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.”
The statement concludes: “The hope is that the steps we’re taking now will help support more meaningful conversations as Season 2 rolls out later this year. We’ve seen in our research that teens took positive action after watching the series, and now – more than ever – we are seeing the power and compassion of this generation advocating on behalf of themselves and their peers.”
It is worth noting, however, that nowhere in the statement does Netflix mention the word “suicide,” or even “mental illness.” It’s hard to address an issue if you can’t even name it. You can read Netflix’s full statement here.