Suicide in movies and television shows

2 Nov, 2018

We’ve had some messages lately from viewers distressed by scenes of and about suicide in movies and TV shows. Some people were unaware that suicide would be explored before they watched and were very distressed after viewing. 

We do know that suicide on screen can cause significant distress, and can, in some cases, lead to vulnerable viewers becoming suicidal.

If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide, struggle with suicidal ideation or have attempted suicide in the past, you deserve a heads up so you can make the best decision for yourself. If you need to give these shows or movies a miss, there’s no shame in that! Self-care means checking in with yourself about how you’re feeling and what you can cope with, and making the best decisions for you.

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 for support from a trained counsellor, any time.

If you’re heading to the movies or switching on Netflix this weekend, we’ve outlined some of the shows/movies we’re concerned about below so you can make an informed decision. SPOILERS AHEAD.

A Star Is Born is the movie we’ve had the most feedback about. The Office of Film and Literature Classification have added a note warning that the movie includes a suicide. While the suicide mostly happens off-screen, we have heard some viewers were extremely distressed after watching this movie and have needed to access professional support.

A Million Little Things on SoHo has also caused significant distress, particularly among people who have lost someone to suicide. Suicide is shown on screen in this TV show and it contains some troubling messages about suicide in a similar vein to 13 Reasons Why, with the person who died by suicide lingering to affect the lives of those left behind and, in the words of one reviewer, “minimising the brutal finality of his exit”.

We also know the popular Netflix series The Haunting Of Hill House contains a graphic suicide scene that has triggered some people. The scene, which is quite drawn-out, is at the end of episode 5.

And, finally, even if you’re not going to the movies to see A Star Is Born, you may see the trailer for a movie called Happy Death Day 2U which includes suicide scenes.

Of course, many people have watched many or all of these without needing extra help. If that’s you, we’re really glad, and we hope you’ll be kind and thoughtful toward those who are distressed. Kia kaha.

Young people are likely to have seen these shows and movies and may need to talk about how they feel afterward. Our newest resource, Connecting through Kōrero, will help guide your conversations with taiohi/young people.

We also developed a resource in response to 13 Reasons Why that will be helpful to those worried about the impact of other shows and movies. Read Tips for supporting viewers.