‘13 Reasons Why’ Release Coincided With Increased Searches for Suicide, Study Shows

13 Reasons Why
Courtesy of Netflix

13 Reasons Why” may have triggered a rise in the number of online searches about suicide, according to a new research study.

According to the new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers examined how internet searches for suicide changed after the show premiered on Netflix. According to the study, “All suicide queries were cumulatively 19% (95% CI, 14%-24%) higher for the 19 days following the release of 13 Reasons Why, reflecting 900 000 to 1.5 million more searches than expected.”

“Seventeen of the top 20 related queries were higher than expected, with most rising queries focused on suicidal ideation,” it continued. “For instance, ‘how to commit suicide’ (26%; 95% CI, 12%-42%), ‘commit suicide’ (18%; 95% CI, 11%-26%), and ‘how to kill yourself’ (9%; 95% CI, 4%-14%) were all significantly higher.” The study also noted that internet searches for suicide prevention was also elevated.

It should be noted, however, that correlation does not prove causation and the study does not determine if any of the internet searches studied actually led to suicide attempts.

“Nonetheless, our analyses suggest ’13 Reasons Why,’ in its present form, has both increased suicide awareness while unintentionally increasing suicidal ideation,” it concluded.

The series generated substantial interest when it debuted in March, due to its depiction of teen suicide and sexual violence. According to the CBC, St. Vincent Elementary School in Edmonton, Alberta, sent an email to the parents of sixth graders letting them know their students were prohibited from even mentioning the show on school grounds.

The Hamilton Wentworth District School Board claimed on their official website that the show was guilty of the “glamorization of suicidal behavior and [depicting] negative portrayals of helping professionals.”

The controversy around the series led Netflix to add content warnings to the episodes.

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