Is '13 Reasons Why' glamourising suicide?

The Netflix series has come under fire from some mental health groups

Is '13 Reasons Why' glamourising suicide?

Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker in '13 Reasons Why' [Beth Dubber/Netflix]

A new Netflix series, '13 Reasons Why', has come under fire from mental health and suicide prevention groups all for 'glamorising' suicide and failing to portray viable alternatives.

The National Suicide Research Foundation has said there is international evidence that detailed and graphic portrayals of suicide can have a negative impact on vulnerable young people in terms of an increased risk of copycat suicides.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Professor Ella Arensman, Director of Research with the National Suicide Research Foundation said the series breaks guidelines on suicide reporting within the media. 

"One important guideline is that it can be very harmful to show the methods of suicide, particularly for young people," she said. "One of the episodes is fully dedicated to the occurrence of the suicide of the leading actress, in all detail."

Professor Arensman said similar series in the past have resulted in "very significant increases" in copycat or imitation suicide.

The series is based on the best-selling book 'Thirteen Reasons Why' by Jay Asher, and revolves high school students, Clay Jensen, and fellow student Hannah Baker, who committed suicide. A box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah before her suicide details thirteen reasons why she ended her life.

Professor Arensman added that the series risks glamourising suicide - Hannah's suicide is portrayed as "heroic" and "simplistic".

Relevant helplines that can be accessed by people in distress include: Childline: 1800 66 66 66; Aware: 1800 80 48 48; Samaritans: 116 123 and relevant websites: www.reachout.com, www.aware.iewww.yourmentalhealth.ie, www.jigsaw.ie