Is '13 Reasons Why' Helping Kids Kill Themselves?


Schools in places ranging from Colorado to Canada banned talk of the show and the book it's based on.

Several mental health professionals have already reported treating Hannah-Baker copycats, who have articulated wanting to commit suicide just like she did on the show.

But there weren't many hard numbers about the show's effect on people who may be considering self-harm-until now.

Terms like "suicide hotline number" increased 21 percent and "teen suicide" rose 34 percent. They found all suicide queries increased 19 percent. The discrepancy between expected and actual suicide-related searches following the shows premiere was startling.

John Ayers, a professor of public health at San Diego State University and one of the researchers who conducted the study, chose to look at the impact of 13 Reasons Why after it sparked a global debate between mental health professionals, school administrators, and parents about how it potentially negatively influences teenagers, the target audience of the show.

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When 13 Reasons Why became a phenomenon back in March, people had mixed feelings about whether it glorified suicide or was simply raising awareness. "Now, with this data, we have a new call to action".

"Our analyses suggest 13 Reasons Why, in its present form, has both increased suicidal awareness while unintentionally increasing suicidal ideation", proponents of the study wrote. Her classmate, Clay Jensen, then discovers seven double-sided tape recordings in which Baker reveals why she made a decision to kill herself.

In April, two teenagers in California committed suicide after reportedly watching the Netflix show.

Based on the 2007 novel "Thirteen reasons why" by Jay Asher, the series revolve around the suicide of a teenage girl, Hannah Baker. According to Fox News, the grieving families blamed the show for acting as the trigger to the suicides.

"This is where "13 Reasons Why" misses the mark", he said.

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In the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, Ayers and his colleagues at San Diego State University, analyzed Google Trends, which is a public archive that shows how often a particular search-term, keyword, or phrase is entered over a specific period of time. This translates to about 900,000 to 1.5 million more "suicide" searches than expected, the researchers said. Using the related search terms tool, we also monitored the top 25 terms and the next 5 most related terms to those, yielding 20 terms after ignoring duplicate, unrelated (eg, "suicide slide"), or unclear (eg, "suicide bridge") terms.

"13 Reasons Why departs so much from the World Health Organization standards [for media professionals addressing suicide] that it's not surprising we're seeing this result". Critics anxious that its treatment of the subject would do more harm than good for young and vulnerable viewers. "Regardless of age, those thinking about suicide are a highly vulnerable audience".

In the research letter, the scientists found that while searches for suicide hotlines were also higher - when searching the term "suicide", the first result is a link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - these were still less than suicide ideation. "However, it is plausible that in some cases fictional characters might be powerful contributors to suicide risk".

Currently, the most violent episodes are prefaced with warnings.

He also has some advice as producers start work on the next season.

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"I personally have seen multiple psychiatric admissions where the admission note details the fact that the teen said that they wanted to 'kill myself the way the girl in 13 Reasons Why did, '" said O'Brien.