WASHINGTON (April 29, 2019) – Suicides among U.S. kids aged 10 to 17 jumped to a 19-year high in the month following the release of a popular TV series that depicted a girl ending her life, researchers said.
The study published Monday can’t prove that the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” was the cause, but there were 195 more youth suicides than would have been expected in the nine months following the show’s March 2017 release, given historical and seasonal suicide trends, the study estimated.
During April 2017 alone, 190 U.S. tweens and teens took their own lives. Their April 2017 suicide rate was .57 per 100,000 people, nearly 30 percent higher than in the preceding five years included in the study. An additional analysis found that the April rate was higher than in the previous 19 years, said lead author Jeff Bridge, a suicide researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
“The creators of the series intentionally portrayed the suicide of the main character. It was a very graphic depiction of the suicide death,” which can trigger suicidal behavior, Bridge said.
When will you get serious about ’13RW,’ Netflix?
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)
Netflix is preparing to release Season #3 of “13 Reasons Why” in the coming weeks. At the same time, researchers at several universities and the National Institute of Mental Health are suggesting the series is associated with a nearly 30 percent increase in suicides among young people ages 10-17.
Ed Vitagliano, vice president of American Family Association, says his organization has been worried about the series “13 Reasons Why” since the beginning.
“The study, although it does have some caveats, does show this astonishing increase in the number of suicides,” he notes. “And even when the series came out – and before this study was done – I read of countless psychologists warning of the possibility of a contagion effect.”
The study finds the increase could be an additional 195 teen suicides between April 1, 2017 – when Season #1 the Netflix series was first released – and December 31 of the same year.
Vitagliano argues that Netflix is failing to take the increased threat to their viewers seriously.
“I think we should take it seriously; I think Netflix should take it seriously,” says Vitagliano. “And we do not think Netflix has taken it seriously because this series has been a financial boon for the company. We think that they’re putting profits ahead of the potential damage it could be doing to troubled youth.”
An online petition launched by American Family Association urging Netflix to drop the series has drawn more than 144,000 signatures.