The release of "13 Reasons Why" Season 2 by Netflix is proving controversial, in particular due to its sensitive content about suicide and depression. While the network has already added viewer protections for its second season, the Parents Television Council (PTC) is still urging the streaming network to reconsider its release date.
PTC President Tim Winter said in a statement on the organisation's website that the impact of "13 Reasons Why" has been "powerful and intense" since millions of children tuned in to watch the story about Hannah Baker's short life and suicide. It is believed that due to the show's content and popularity that Google's search results for how to commit suicide also increased 26 percent, and reports of kids taking their own lives after the show also became more prominent.
"We may never know the full extent of how grave the influence was, but we do know it was enough for Netflix to commission a research report on how the show has impacted the lives of its viewers – especially young viewers – in positive ways," said Winter.
He added that Netflix cannot "feign ignorance should tragedy strike" since it has made the show readily available for children to watch via their mobile phones, TV, and other devices. Because of this, the PTC is urging the network to hold off the release of Season 2 until experts in the scientific community have deemed it safe for viewing "by an audience that is comprised heavily of minor children."
"When a film or TV series centers entirely on high school-aged children for its storytelling, it is high school and junior high school children who watch and who feel most emotionally-connected to the characters. Grown-ups don't put themselves into the position of high schoolers; but other children do," he said.
The PTC also wants Netflix to implement a pricing structure similar to Sirius/XM Satellite radio, since it gives parents the option to opt out of adult or explicit programming in exchange for a subscription price reduction. At the same time, the PTC is urging Netflix to work proactively with filtering service providers like VidAngel, since this allows consumers to filter explicit content.
"And lastly, we call on Netflix to participate in a national symposium to develop and identify effective protective measures for children and families. Congress passed the Child Safe Viewing Act almost a decade ago, and industry representatives need to help deliver real solutions, rather than seek cover from its intended reach," said Winter.
Lauren Caldwell, director of the American Psychological Association's Children, Youth, and Families Office, told CNN that Netflix is actually opening up dialogue about mental health issues that contribute to suicide, which is a good thing. But "the follow-through could be improved a bit," she said, adding that after each episode, a resource for crisis should be included.