Is '13 Reasons Why' Helping Kids Kill Themselves?

Is '13 Reasons Why' Helping Kids Kill Themselves?

Is '13 Reasons Why' Helping Kids Kill Themselves?

The search for "suicide hotline number" rose 21 percent.

A new study found online searches related to suicide increased considerably following Netflix's release of the show "13 Reasons Why, " a series about a teen girl who commits suicide.

Another suicide being linked to the show was that of a 23-year-old in Peru who allegedly mimicked the show's plot when he jumped from the fourth floor of his apartment building and left behind two suicide notes and some recordings.

To investigate the possible effects of "13 Reasons Why", researchers at San Diego State University analyzed US internet searches that included the word "suicide" in the 19 days after the show's premiere.

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"There were between 900,000 and 1,500,000 more suicide-related searches than expected during the 19 days following the series' release", said study co-author Mark Dredze, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University.

"'13 Reasons' Why elevated suicide awareness, but it is concerning that searches indicating suicidal ideation also rose", reads the study.

For 12 of the 19 days following 31 March, all suicide searches rose more than expected, ranging from 15% to 44% higher than anticipated. Some praised the show for spreading awareness and others accused Netflix of glamorizing suicide in a way that may promote self-harm. Ayers chose the April date as a bookend to avoid the effect Hernandez's death would have had on the searches and the study's results. Now, a study has seemingly confirmed these fears.

To assess and analyze online searches, the researchers used Google Trends to identify the top 25 queries that included suicide and five terms related to suicide. In the series, teenager Hannah Baker commits suicide and leaves behind 13 tapes explaining why.

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For more information about suicide prevention or to speak with someone confidentially, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) or Samaritans (U.K.). Only four episodes in the show's first series have a disclaimer before the episode warning viewers that the following scenes may be "disturbing and/or may not be suitable for younger audiences", despite a suicide victim's story being the main focus of the plot in all episodes.

"The data shows that 13 Reasons Why isn't fit for public health", John Ayers, the lead researcher of the study, told Global News. Netflix has also created a website equipped with suicide hotlines for each of the countries in which it can be streamed. Netflix also encouraged parents to watch the show with teens and offered talking points.

In a written statement, Netflix said, "We always believed this show would increase discussion around this tough subject matter". Critics anxious that a popularized story of one teen's suicide might influence others, and a new report suggests that the show had a significant impact on what people are searching for online.

Some even argue that the widely popularized TV show can make it more contagious and that it can allegedly directly influence the behavior of the youth. "We are looking forward to more research and taking everything we learn to heart as we prepare for season two".

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The researches have cautioned that such shows may inspire suicide and certain measures should be taken to prevent that from happening. Netflix also followed the launch of season one with a documentary called 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons, in which the cast and its producers address some of the concerns.

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