Mental health organization Headspace recently denounced the way "13 Reasons Why" depicts suicide — namely, the shocking scene in the last episode when Hannah climbs into a bathtub and slits her wrists with a razor blade.
The group called out "13 Reasons Why" for its "irresponsible" portrayal of suicide.
There are certain guidelines the media is expected to follow when depicting or detailing suicides (for example, the Press Council states "the method and location of a suicide should not be described in detail, e.g. a particular drug or cliff").
But according to Headspace, "13 Reasons Why" failed its viewers:
"There is a responsibility for broadcasters to know what they are showing and the impact that certain content can have on an audience — and on a young audience in particular," Dr. Steven Leicester, head of direct clinical services at Headspace, told the Huffington Post Australia.
The common worry is that Hannah's graphic bathtub scene will lead to "suicide contagion."
Kristen Douglas, the national manager of Headspace school support, pointed out that "harmful suicide exposure" leads to "increased risk and possible suicide contagion."
"It's not like car crashes or cancer," she said. "Irresponsible reporting of suicide can lead to further death."
Other experts agree that the show's depiction of suicide is dangerous.
“As a mental health professional and a person with lived experience of mental illness, I would set this show on fire if I could — meaning I really don't like it,” Alicia Raimundo, mental health advocate and two-time TEDx talk host, told Revelist in an email. “This show does not follow the safe reporting on suicide guidelines and is therefore very dangerous, especially since it's aimed at engaging people already vulnerable to thoughts of suicide.”
And perhaps the most troubling part of Hannah's suicide is her methodology.
"Suicide is often something someone plans ahead of time, but actually following through with it can be very spur of the moment," Raimundo continued. "I don't know a single person that would have the energy to go make tapes for everyone. It's very unrealistic that this would actually happen."
But "13 Reasons Why" writer Nic Sheff defends the decision to show Hannah's traumatic act.
"I stand behind what we did 100%," Sheff wrote in an essay for Vanity Fair. "There are many reasons I’m proud to have worked on '13 Reasons Why.' But the thing I am the most proud of, in all honestly, is the way we decided to depict Hannah’s suicide."
"I know it was right, because my own life was saved when the truth of suicide was finally held up for me to see in all its horror — and reality."
If you're struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or use their Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both services are available 24/7.