Parents warned over new season of Netflix series

 Photo: Beth Dubber/Netflix
The first season of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why was heavily criticised for depicting graphic rape and suicide scenes. Photo: Beth Dubber/Netflix

The second season of a controversial Netflix series has been labelled with a special rating of RP18 by the Chief Censor.

The first season of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why was heavily criticised for depicting graphic rape and suicide scenes. It was the first classification of an RP18-level of a publication in New Zealand.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification then created the special rating, which means someone under 18 who was watching the series must be supervised by a parent or guardian.

Chief Censor David Shanks said it was important young New Zealanders were warned about the content because of the strong focus on rape and suicide in the second season of the series.

Mr Shanks said although there was nothing to physically stop teenagers from watching the show alone, it was difficult with the advancement of technology for such products to be regulated.

"We're not in the business of wanting to enforce or try and criminalise something that we know teenagers are going to watch.

"So the effectiveness, I think, at this point is essentially in trying to get the message through to adults that we know are getting disconnected from some of the material their children are watching."

New Zealand has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the OECD, and mental health advocates were extremely concerned about the effect 13 Reasons Why could have on the teenagers around the country who could binge watch it.

While discussions around mental health and other issues teenagers face were crucial, Mr Shanks said the way the show handled these topics could be triggering for vulnerable audiences.

"I think there's definitely a case to argue that the way 13 Reasons Why presents these issues is very real and relevant for teenagers in particular and can lead to positive discussions," he said.

On the other hand, he pointed to research by the American Medical Association which showed after the streaming of 13 Reasons Why there was an increase in searches on suicide, ideation and methods.

The second season of the series hits Netflix tomorrow night.

Need help?

Healthline: 0800 611 116
Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666
Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797
General mental health inquiries: 0800 443 366
The Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757
Homecare Medical: 24-hour 1737 free text/phone
Youthline: 0800 376 633, txt 234 or talk@youthline.co.nz
What's Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1pm-11pm): 0800 942 8787
Kidsline (aimed at children up to age 14; 4pm-6pm weekdays): 0800 54 3754 (0800 kidsline)

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