This image released by Netflix shows Katherine Langford in a scene from the series, '13 Reasons Why,' about a teenager who commits suicide. Picture: Beth Dubber/Netflix via AP
This image released by Netflix shows Katherine Langford in a scene from the series, '13 Reasons Why,' about a teenager who commits suicide. Picture: Beth Dubber/Netflix via AP

WATCH: Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' adds new warning video

By Carmelita Fredericks Time of article published Mar 23, 2018

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When Netflix's "13 Reasons Why" - a show centered on a teenager's suicide - premiered nearly a year ago, it did more than just raise the eyebrows of a few concerned parents.

The series, based on a young adult novel by Jay Asher, launched a debate over the portrayal of sensitive subjects such as teen suicide, rape and substance abuse in pop culture, and led to Netflix adding even more trigger warnings to Season 1's episodes.

The show's second season is scheduled to premiere later this year and Netflix is stepping up its game. The streaming service announced Wednesday that it will do more to ensure the series' content does not harm its audience.

Changes include the addition of a custom warning video that will play at the start of each season and more resources to help parents and teen viewers, according to a statement from Netflix posted online.

"Soon after the Season 1 launch, we saw global conversation explode on the controversial topics covered by the series and understood we had a responsibility to support these important discussions," Brian Wright, Netflix's vice president of original series, said in the statement.

The new introductory video features four of the show's cast members - Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Justin Prentice and Alisha Boe - speaking to viewers as themselves, not their characters.

In the video, the cast explains that the fictional show "tackles tough real-world issues," adding that they hope the series helps viewers start a conversation.

"But if you're struggling with these issues yourself, this series may not be right for you, or you may want to watch it with a trusted adult," Boe says in the clip.

Minnette then appears, replacing Boe, and lists resources people can use if they feel like they need help.

Aside from the video, Netflix has added a downloadable viewing guide to help parents and teens talk about the show's difficult themes, according to the online statement.

The second season also will include a new after-show, featuring the actors, experts and educators who helped inform Netflix's approach to the series, the statement said.

The show's first season drew hefty criticism for its graphic content, most notably the season finale's gut-wrenching scene in which one of the show's main characters, 17-year-old Hannah Baker, kills herself.

Many educators and school mental health professionals spoke out against the depiction of Hannah's suicide, warning parents that it "could contribute to a 'contagion effect' among students with mental illness and linking it to self-harm and suicide threats among young people," The Washington Post's Moriah Balingit reported.

The Washington Post's Moriah Balingit explains why some educators and psychologists are saying the show about teen suicide should not be watched by young people.(Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)

Despite attempts to caution teens from watching "13 Reasons Why," and in some places even banning all discussion of it, the show's popularity skyrocketed.

Less than a month after it premiered, the series had already amassed more than 11 million tweets, making it the most tweeted-about show of 2017 at the time, according to Variety.

But, around the same time, a more problematic trend was appearing.

The Washington Post reported that in the weeks after people started watching the show, internet searches about suicide also increased, citing a study from JAMA Internal Medicine.

Some parents even blamed the show for causing their children to commit suicide.

Those involved with the show, such as executive producer Selena Gomez, have defended its content, saying they stayed true to Asher's book.

"It's not an easy subject to talk about, but I'm very fortunate with how it's doing," Gomez told the AP in 2017. "I'm overwhelmed, you know. Very proud of it."

The original version of this article appeared on Washington Post

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