New research finds that the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” may lead to increased suicidal thoughts among youngsters. This study is first to examine the effect of provocative show which gathered much admiration for its realistic picture of the events leading to suicide of a teenage girl. Based on this series, Google shows that searches for “how to commit suicide” increased by 26%. It is cause for concern as there is deep-rooted link between suicidal thoughts and suicidal attempts.
Google trends were used to aggregate internet search data in U.S by Ayers and his team. Their focus was to look for searches that took place between March 31 (when 13 Reasons Why released) and April 18 (before NFL player Aaron Hernandez’s death) to control for suicide related searches. They also excluded term Squad to account for Suicide Squad searches.
“Psychiatrists have expressed grave concerns, because the show ignores the World Health Organization’s validated media guidelines for preventing suicide,” coauthor on the study John W. Ayers of San Diego State University told Fatherly. WHO’s guidelines aim to discourage content that centers around suicide.
Study find marked spikes in searches related to suicide in early April. Some spikes came from help seekers (searching for suicide ked spikes hotlines 12% and suicide prevention 23%). Searches for “how to kill yourself” also increased by 9%. “commit suicide” by 18% and “how to commit suicide” by 26%.
“It is unexpected that the study showed increased suicidal thoughts linked to suicidal attempts.” Ayers says. “The time for more debate is over.”
Ayer and his team called Netflix immediately to ask for the removal of show to avoid unnecessary deaths as suicide is 3rd leading cause of death for teenagers between age 15-24. Ayers says that he will create a show representing a success story of how someone contemplating suicide was given help to have a full life ahead. “This is where 13 Reasons Why totally misses the mark.”