Netflix '13 Reasons Why' linked to increase in youth suicides as study shows young people are 'particularly vulnerable' to media
The study analyzed data about the deaths of individuals that occurred between 2013 and 2017, a timespan that encompassed the period before and after the release of the series
The Netflix show '13 Reasons Why' has been linked to a 28.9% increase in youth suicide rates for people between the ages of 10 and 17 post the show's release.
April 2017 saw the highest overall suicide rate for the mentioned age group in the last five years, which eventually fell back into line but had remained at an all-time high for that year, according to a new study.
The study was published by the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry on Monday and has sparked discussions about the show which is currently in production for the third season.
The show had premiered in March 2017 and revolves around a teenage girl's suicide.
The show alarmed many experts who were of the opinion that the show was glamorizing suicide.
However, some critics and viewers were impressed by the show and believe it to be an honest portrayal of teenage frustration and distress.
During that time, suicide rates for girls between 10-17 did not increase significantly.
The study was conducted by researchers at several universities, hospitals, and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). A staff scientist in the National Institute of Mental Health’s Intramural Research Program, Lisa M. Horowitz, shared, "The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to the media."
"All disciplines, including the media, need to take good care to be constructive and thoughtful about topics that intersect with public health crises. Suicide is a problem worldwide, and it’s so hard to knock these rates down. The last thing we need is something that increases them," she continued.
In order to understand the impact of '13 Reasons Why' on suicide rates, researchers analyzed annual and monthly data on deaths due to suicide sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web-based Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research. The data included information about the deaths of individuals between the ages of 10 and 64 that occurred between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2017, a timespan that encompassed the period before and after the release of the series.
The researchers found that the rates of suicide for 10- to 17-year-olds was significantly higher in the months of April, June, and December 2017 than expected based on past data. This increase translated into an additional estimated 195 suicide deaths between April 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2017. The observed suicide rate for March 2017 — the month prior to the release of '13 Reasons Why' — was also higher than forecast.
A spokesperson for Netflix released a statement which read, "We’ve just seen this study and are looking into the research, which conflicts with last week’s study from the University of Pennsylvania. This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly."