Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' Linked to Suicidal Thoughts

  • Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' Linked to Suicidal Thoughts

Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' Linked to Suicidal Thoughts

In a separate editorial, public health officials at Harvard University said the programme should have provided information for suicide helplines before each episode. They found that internet searches using the word "suicide" were about 19% higher between the show's release on March 31 and April 18, the day before news that former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez died by suicide in prison.

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine and led by San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health associate research professor John W. Ayers delved into Americans' internet search history in the days after the series aired. "Searches often foreshadow offline behaviors". "The most rising queries focused on suicidal ideation". Searches for "how to commit suicide" increased 26 percent more than expected, searches for "commit suicide" were 18 percent higher, while "how to kill yourself" searches sparked 9 percent.

At the same time, searches seeking help also increased. Queries for the phrase "suicide hotline number", for example, were 21% higher than the norm, while searches for "suicide hotline" were 12% higher and searches for "suicide prevention" were 23% higher.

They collected all search phrases containing the word "suicide", except for those accompanied by the word "squad", as those were most likely for the unrelated movie "Suicide Squad", released around the same time. Her classmate, Clay Jensen, then discovers seven double-sided tape recordings in which Baker reveals why she made a decision to kill herself. The show deals with rape, drunk driving and bullying.

U.S. youth mental health experts warned that the show's success would foster similar "binge-watching" series. Netflix also encouraged parents to watch the show with teens and offered talking points.

Netflix responded with a statement saying, "We always believed this show would increase discussion around this tough subject matter". This is an interesting quasi-experimental study that confirms this.

Kimberly McManama O'Brien is a clinical researcher in psychiatry at Boston Children's Hospital.

Although it hasn't been proven if Lazo's suicide was inspired by 13 Reasons Why, many took note of the similarities between his death and that of Hannah Baker's on the show. Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez's suicide occurred on April 19, so they decided to make that the cut off date. The bad news is fairly alarming, though - Ayers and his colleagues write that in light of prior evidence on the link between suicide-related searches and actual suicide attempts, there is at least a circumstantial case that 13 Reasons Whydid cause some real-world instances of increased suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, even as it led other people to potentially lifesaving resources.

Out of 20 common queries related to suicide that researchers examined, 17 had higher than expected search volume during the study period. But previous research has shown a correlation between "searches for explicitly suicidal terms with conventional measures of self-reported suicide risk in estimating completed suicides".

The researchers suggest, based on recommendations by the World Health Organization's media guidelines for preventing suicide, that the show remove scenes showing suicide - the series finale shows the main character's suicide over a three-minute scene - and add disclaimers to the episodes with the number for a suicide hotline.

Critics of the series say it shows suicide as an inevitable conclusion to the "adversities" of life.