Mental health plays a pivotal role in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why.
With the release of second season of the popular show on May 18, Netflix has created a video dedicated to spotting signs of depression.
The video is part of a new discussion series, which features cast members Brian d’Arcy, Derek Luke and Anne Winters (among others), out of character, discussing sensitive issues from the show like depression, substance abuse, bullying, sexual assault and gun violence.
Chelsea Alden, who plays Mackenzie, begins the first discussion video. “In 13 Reasons Why, Hannah doesn’t say she suffers from depression but the signs are there,” she says.
“You may know someone who feels like Hannah,” says Steven Silver, who plays Marcus Cole.
Wilson Cruz, who plays Dennis Vasquez, continues: “And while there’s no single way to tell if someone is depressed or considering suicide, you can look for these possible signs.”
Silver lists some signs: “Withdrawing from activities that they usually love or isolating from family and friends, an increase in drug or alcohol abuse.”
Alden adds: “Changing their appearance in a dramatic fashion, like losing a lot of weight or not caring about their appearance, constant mood shifts like increased anxiety, humiliation or rage.”
“Talking about feeling hopeless or trapped or being a burden to others. Or just saying that they felt like Hannah,” Cruz adds to the list of possible signs.
Global News spoke to Brian Wright, vice president of original content at Netflix, about the second season of 13 Reasons Why and the impact the show has made on its viewers and parents.
Global News: Given the first season was based on a book, why did you decide to do a second season and how do the various tough topics show up in Season 2?
Wright: We felt it was the right thing to do by continuing the story of each individual character and exploring the aftermath of the trauma in Season 1. Our viewers had become invested in the stories of these characters and some of them had only just begun to deal with a very traumatic event in their lives. For instance, Jessica has only just begun to process her sexual assault, Tyler has been dealing with social isolation as well as Clay, who lost the girl he loved and has only just started to understand what he was grieving and how to move on from it. We wanted to return to their lives and see how each of these characters begin to recover and let their stories come more full circle. And most important of all, Brian Yorkey, our showrunner and EP, had an inspired vision for the season, which gave us great confidence.
Global News: What impact have you seen the show make on its viewers, both parents and teens?
Wright: From the beginning, because the series broaches uncomfortable topics, we believed it had the potential to be a powerful agent for change. Soon after the Season 1 launch, we saw global conversation explode on the controversial topics covered by the series and understood we had a responsibility to support these important discussions. To understand whether and how the series opened a dialogue between teens and parents, we commissioned a global research study with Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development, which has an active research focus on the impact of media on children and teens. We learned a lot about the conversation from this study, for example, a sizable group of adolescents reported that the show helped them feel more comfortable talking about these difficult topics with friends, parents, counselors, and teachers.
Global News: How do you think entertainment can be used to start a conversation?
Wright: From the beginning, we believed this series had the potential to be a powerful catalyst for conversation. The recent Northwestern University study of more than 5,000 teens, young adults and parents in four regions of the world found that watching 13 Reasons Why prompted teen and parent conversations about bullying, suicide and mental health, citing roughly 58 per cent of teens claiming they talked to their parents about the show and issues presented within. We’ve seen in our research that teens took positive action after watching the series, and now — more than ever — we are seeing the power and compassion of this generation advocating on behalf of themselves and their peers.
After watching the 13-episode series, Beyond The Reasons is available for fans to watch as well.
WATCH BELOW: Trailer for Beyond the Reasons
Beyond The Reasons features the 13 Reasons Why cast, producers and mental health professionals discussing Season 2 scenes dealing with difficult issues, including intervention, bullying and sexual assault.
In addition to the Discussion Series and Beyond the Reasons, Netflix is also releasing a suite of all new resources on 13ReasonsWhy.info including a discussion guide, video message from the cast and more.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 to get immediate help.
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