'13 Reasons Why' sparks conversation on portraying mental health

Netflix's new show, 13 Reasons Why, is sparking conversations on mental health.

Some mental health experts say the show could pose health risks for young people who are having suicidal thoughts. Others suggest the show provides a valuable opportunity to discuss suicide risk among a younger age group, as well as how to identify warning signs among their peers.

"There is a great concern that I have ... that young people are going to overidentify with Hannah in the series and we actually may see more suicides as a result of this television series," Dan Reidenberg, the executive director for Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, a nonprofit group with the mission of suicide prevention told ABC News.

The series, which premiered March 31, follows the fictional story of a teenage girl named Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) who leaves behind 13 mysterious audio recordings on cassette tapes after killing herself. She addresses each recording to a person who she believes played a role in her decision to end her own life. Her peers then find themselves coping with her death in different ways.

The show is based on best-selling author Jay Asher's 2007 young adult book of the same title. Actress and pop star Selena Gomez co-produced the 13-episode Netflix adaptation.

Kate Walsh, who plays the grieving mother of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) in the series, told The Huffington Post she believes the show should be required viewing in schools.

"It's ugly and it's really hard and it should be seen," she said. "I feel like it should be mandatory in schools that parents and teachers and students watch this and have conversations about sexual assault, about bullying, about LGBTQ issues, about race issues, gender issues, and suicide and depression and mental health."

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 34, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix.
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