Kuala Lumpur, 1 May 2019 — A study published last week in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has suggested that the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why’ which debuted in March 2017, may have resulted in an increase in youth suicides in the US.
Suicide data from 1 Jan 2013, to 31 Dec 2017, a five year period before and after “13 Reasons Why” premiered on 31 March 2017, was analyzed by study researchers. Findings indicated that there were 195 more suicides among young people between the ages of 10 – 17 years in the months after the show’s debut.
The number of recorded suicides in April 2017 were in fact greater than any other single month during the period of the study. The analysis had already taken into account existing observed increases in monthly suicide rates.
Also observed was that more young men died by suicide than young women overall. Girls were found to have higher rates of non-fatal suicidal behaviours compared to boys.
However, there appeared to be no significant connection between the deaths by suicide of those age 18 and above, and the show.
“13 Reasons Why” depicts the journey of high school student Hannah Baker up to moment of her death by suicide. She leaves audio tapes for certain people, in which she posthumously narrates a series of events and circumstances involving them which contribute towards her decision to take her own life. There are graphic scenes of her deaths as well as depictions of sexual violence.
Another study found that internet searches containing the word “suicide” actually went up 19 percent following the show’s first season.
Experts had earlier expressed concern that the graphic depiction of suicide contained in the media could result in contagion, particularly among vulnerable youth.
Netflix has incorporated trigger warnings and recommendations to seek information on mental resources into the first season of the show.