New Zealand has declared that anyone under the age of 18 who wants to watch Netflix’s hit series 13 Reasons Why will need adult supervision.
Explaining that New Zealand has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the country’s Office of Film and Literature Classification on Thursday expressed concerns, saying the show depicts suicide as a logical and unavoidable outcome for its protagonist. “13 Reasons Why brings up a lot of problems, but it doesn’t really provide many solutions,” the office said of the RP18 rating. “Young people need guidance and support from the adults in their life in order to help keep them safe.”
The New Zealand office, which can only classify and censor Netflix shows following their release, has placed the adult supervision restriction in the hopes that it will foster conversations between at-risk teens and their parents. “These conversations need to be informed and safe, though, which means that parents, guardians, and other adults need to have open conversations with their young people about the issues raised by the show,” the office said in a blog post explaining its decision.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention notes in its guidelines for reporters that that risk of additional suicides increases when stories explicitly describe suicides, use dramatic images, or glamorize a death. While the show has come under fire for its graphic depictions of suicide, the series’ creators have explained the reasoning behind their decision to show the act. “They felt for a TV series, if you’re going to watch it, you want to show it as horrific as it actually is,” Jay Asher, who wrote the 2007 novel on which the Netflix adaptation is based, told EW about the scene. “So the way she does it, you can’t watch it and feel like it’s glamorized in any way. It looks and is painful, and then when she’s found by her parents, it absolutely destroys them.”
The creators also produced a half-hour special, Beyond the Reasons (also available on Netflix), that delves into issues of mental health, sexual assault, and bullying in interviews mental health care professionals and the cast and crew.