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13 Reasons Why: Netflix adds warnings to show criticised for glamourising teen suicide

Katherine Langford plays the lead in Netflix's series 13 Reasons Why. Credit: Beth Dubber/Netflix via AP

Streaming service Netflix has enhanced its warnings to viewers of a show that has been accused of romanticising teen suicide.

The 13-episode drama 13 Reasons Why has been criticised by mental health groups and prompted schools in America to send out warning letters to parents and guardians.

The series, which is based on a best-selling 2007 young adult novel, sees a secondary school student commit suicide and leave behind 13 cassette tapes detailing the events that led to her death, including a rape and bullying.

The show's creators have defended their frank depiction of teen life, saying it needed to be "unflinching and raw" in order to reflect the struggles of suicidal children.

Disney actress Selena Gomez co-produced the 13-episode drama. Credit: AP

However Netflix responded to the criticism by adding more pre-episode warnings about graphic content, including the series opener, despite it carrying an equivalent 18-rating in the US.

The broadcaster also said it was "strengthening" the language in messages that were already attached to three episodes containing explicit material.

"While many of our members find the show to be a valuable driver for starting important conversation with their families, we have also heard concern from those who feel the series should carry additional advisories," Netflix said in a statement to the Hollywood reporter.

The show's creators said the drama aimed to reflect the struggles of suicidal children. Credit: AP

"Currently the episodes that carry graphic content are identified as such. Moving forward, we will add an additional viewer warning card before the episode as an extra precaution for those about to start the series."

The warning to parents over 13 Reasons Why, which is co-produced by former child Disney star Selena Gomez, urged them not to allow their children to watch it alone.

"We are concerned about our children watching this series without adult supervision because it romanticises and sensationalises the idea of suicide,” New York schools chief Lisa Brady wrote in an email to parents, which was reported by the New York Times.

The British Board of Film Classification issued the series an 18 rating based on its sexual violence, strong bloody images and the suicide scene.

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