Content warning: This story contains references to suicide.

An Otago University study has found teenagers have been "shocked" by the portrayal of suicide in controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

According to the report, teenagers interviewed said they found the graphic detail of the scenes "excessive".

"They questioned why the show's creators had included such graphic content, if they wanted teenagers to watch it. They described the scene as 'shocking', 'upsetting', 'raw' and 'confronting' - and most struggled to watch it," said lead researcher Dr Sarah McKenzie from the Suicide and Mental Health Research Group.

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The Netflix series has been widely criticised for ignoring the World Health Organization's suicide prevention media guidelines by showing suicide methods in detail on-screen.

While many of the teenagers who took part in the study thought the show had generated more discussion about youth suicide in New Zealand, they believed this was largely a result of the "shock factor" of the suicide scene.

"Most believed 13 Reasons Why gave jumbled messages about suicide awareness. However, for some, the show had a positive influence, by encouraging them to think about the impact that suicide had on others," said Dr McKenzie.

Last year Netflix agreed to edit out a graphic scene in the first season of 13 Reasons Why, depicting the main character Hannah taking her own life.

The decision came after a study found a connection between a spike in teen suicide and the popularity of the show.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

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LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat.
NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.