Speaking with PEOPLE recently, the Australian actress opened up about how important it is for those suffering with depression — regardless of their age — to get help. She also discussed the impact that social media has on how people bully one another.
“Bullying has existed forever. Everyone has dealt with it and teenagers, regardless of where they are, are dealing with the same stuff growing up,” she told PEOPLE. “I can say, even being just a few years out of high school, the difference that social media has had … it’s not normal to access people as often as we are. It’s not normal to have that kind of reach and be able to stalk or constantly harass.”
“One thing that really personally grinds my gears is this whole thing about body image and the culture that Instagram and other [social media platforms] can produce,” Langford said. “It’s not that Instagram, Facebook and Twitter aren’t really great mediums — let’s be honest, technology allowing us to be able to contact people around the world is fantastic — but it’s also so detrimental. We are seeing self-harm, eating disorders and mental health issues.”
13 Reasons Why is an adaptation of Jay Asher’s young adult book of the same name. Langford plays the central character Hannah Baker, a teenager who commits suicide after experiencing prolonged bullying at her new high school. Hannah began being bullied by other students after a photo of her underwear was sent around via text messages.
“Everything that we do within the show is something that’s happening, has happened or is something that someone can relate too,” she explained. “What I’m proud about is that we did not shy away from that. A lot of shows and movies that have tried to represent teenagers or the chaos that is coming at that age, they shy away from it, romanticize it or they kind of fantasize what it’s like to be a teenager. It can be s—.”
“This stuff is not cool,” she said of bullying. “It’s not fun. Being depressed is not a beautiful tragedy, it’s hell and it’s agony. Posting photos of someone that you don’t have the consent for is illegal and that’s a huge, huge issue. We need to be teaching consent, and that’s not just for photos.”
Langford goes on to stress that fact that children need to be taught kindness and compassion for one another.
“We need to be teaching kindness, and that’s just not for bullying,” she explained. “We need to be teaching consent, because if someone can send a photo without your permission, than someone can have sex with you without your permission and neither of those are right.”
“My message would be to keep talking about these issues, be brave and love people,” Langford added. “Don’t let yourself be small because you want to fit in. Keep talking about these issues, because they are nothing to be ashamed of.”
13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the National Institute of Mental Health online at nimh.nih.gov. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-273-8255.