A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has found that depictions of youth suicide in entertainment can potentially harm youth.
The report also found that youth suicides are up 29 percent after Netflix debuted 2017’s “13 Reasons Why” — a teen-centric drama series based on youth suicides. The series’ season finale culminated in a teen — who’d crafted 13 videos explaining why she’d decided to take her life — slitting her wrists in a bathtub and dying.
What are the details?
Following the release of the popular Netflix show, the U.S. youth suicide rate was 28.9 percent higher among children ages 10-17 when compared to previous years, according to the study. The surge was primarily attributed to adolescent males, the study found.
Researchers in the study, which was released on Monday and backed by the National Institute of Mental Health, did add that the findings did have limitations and that they could not make a definitive and direct link to the popular Netflix show.
Researchers concluded that their findings “should serve as a reminder to be mindful of the possible unintended impacts of the portrayal of suicide, and as a call to the entertainment industry and the media to use best practices when engaging with this topic.”
A spokesperson for Netflix told Reuters that they were aware of the study and are in the process of reviewing it.
“It’s a critically important topic, and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly,” the spokesperson said.
A third season of the show is in production.
In 2018, Chief Executive Reed Hastings told shareholders that the company would renew the series for a third season.
“’13 Reasons Why’ has been enormously popular and successful,” Hastings boasted. “It’s engaging content. It is controversial. But nobody has to watch it.”
In 2017, two families blamed the hit Netflix show for the suicides of their respective teens.
Two 15-year-old girls from two different families committed suicide following screenings of the show. One of the teens’ moms said that the show was basically offering up a blueprint for suicide.
Both families voiced their disgust with the fact that the network decided to continue airing the controversial show.
A few months after the girls took their own lives, web searches on how to commit suicide spiked. A study found that in the 19 days after the show’s debut, internet searches for “suicide” shot up 20 percent.
In 2018, parents blamed the show for another teen suicide, and demanded that Netflix pull the show from its streaming library altogether.