A new Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’ includes themes of teenage life, bullying, and suicide. These are very big subjects and very difficult subjects to put into a drama series.
In response to the New Zealand classifications body created a new censorship category based on concerns that it glorified suicide and could prompt copycats. Somewhere in the world there will be copycats, possibly in New Zealand.
Over the course of three terms of conservative government, cuts have been made across the board to civilian support and services. This has the effect that it cuts off support to people who need it, including the sick (health care cuts), people unable to work (social benefit cuts), suicide prevention (cuts to mental health services), domestic violence (cuts to shelters), and more.
Our concern is that it takes a very 80s / 90s view towards suicide because it seeks to blame the Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’ for suicide. In the 80s/90s it was violence in films and computer games, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger films and the Mortal Kombat games. As though the cause of violent behaviour was these films and computer games. These films and games are pretty tame by the standards set by modern horror films and war games.
Instead, we should be looking for the immediate causes of suicide and why people feel this way. Many things contribute to suicidal feelings. Big ticket items in depression and mental problems, poverty, and family violence. As we already mentioned above, three terms of conservative government has cut funding to social benefits, mental health services, shelters, and other support structures.
These are the immediate causes of suicide but what are the underlying reasons for these feelings and emotions? Suicide affects all ages, but the most at-risk are men aged 25-29 and women aged 40-44. Suicide affects all ethnicities, but the Maori population are affected considerably higher than other ethnicities. Why are people particularly sensitive to suicidal feelings in these demographics in particular? Does it mean that society has not Maori people or Maori culture is not properly integrated into society? What about men aged 25-29 and women aged 40-44?
New Zealand has the highest rate of teenage suicide in the OECD, with an average of two young people taking their own life each week. The real questions are:
- Why is this happening generally in New Zealand society but specifically to specific demographics?
- Why is so little done by the government to address this?
It seems to us that the government and society is failing young people in New Zealand and the government is not doing enough to correct this problem. Introducing a new censorship category to miss the mark completely.
If you are in New Zealand please seek support from these groups:
Lifeline New Zealand
0800 543 354
0800 726 666
0800 376 633
It is a pitiful offering, but we love you so much. We strongly advise anybody to seek support and use the contact details above.
- NZ suicide toll: More discussion needed to bring down ‘unacceptably high’ rate, Chief Coroner says
- 13 Reasons Why: New Zealand bans under-18s from watching suicide drama without adult