- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2017

Netflix’s popular “13 Reasons Why” may well get renewed for a second season, but the controversial drama about a teenage bullying victim who commits suicide has garnered a stricter rating by authorities in New Zealand over concerns that the subject matter is inappropriate for teenagers.

“The country’s Office of Film & Literature Classification has created a new category for the show, which will now be known as RP18,” explained the BBC Thursday, noting that Pacific island nation has the “highest rate of teen suicide in the world.”

The new classification means that it is illegal to show the content to a viewer under the age of 18 unless he or she is watching it with a parent or guardian. Previously there were only two such classifications in this category, RP13 and RP16, which set age restrictions at 13 and 16 respectively.

While the drama has “significant merit” for “address[ing] issues that are highly relevant to young people, including suicide, sexual violence, bullying, and slut-shaming,” the Film & Literature Classification office said on its website, the portrayal of the main character’s suicide was the impetus for its decision, they explained.

“Hannah’s suicide is presented fatalistically. Her death is represented at times as not only a logical, but an unavoidable outcome of the events that follow,” said the film board’s official blog. “Suicide should not be presented to anyone as being the result of clear headed thinking. Suicide is preventable, and most people who experience suicidal thoughts are not thinking rationally and therefore cannot make logical decisions.”

The blog post concluded with a note that classification office hopes the rating serves to balance out the importance of raising awareness of teen suicide with the right of parents to safeguard their teenagers’ emotional welfare.

“This classification allows the intended audience of young people to continue to access the series, while providing the necessary intervention of adult supervision in order to keep them safe and sufficiently navigate the relevant but troubling issues that we acknowledge as a part of their lived reality.”

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