CNN

Teen suicide rates spiked after debut of Netflix show ’13 Reasons Why,’ study says

May 2, 2019, 7:41 AM | Updated: Jan 4, 2023, 2:46 pm

(CNN) — The rate of suicide among US boys ages 10 to 17 surged in the month after the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” premiered in March 2017, according to a new study.

Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital measured monthly and annual rates of suicide reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2013 through 2017 among people ages 10 to 64. They then divided them into age groups.

The month immediately following the release of the show had a suicide rate of 0.57 per 100,000 10- to 17-year-olds, the highest rate of the five-year study period in this age group. The nine months after the release saw an extra 195 deaths by suicide in this age group than would have otherwise been expected from seasonal patterns alone, according to the study, published Monday in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The increase was primarily driven by boys, whose rate of suicide went up 28.9% in the month after the premiere of the show. Rates remained stable for girls during the same month, even though a teen girl is the show’s main character.

“13 Reasons Why” is based on best-selling author Jay Asher’s 2007 young adult book of the same title. The series follows the fictional story of a teenage girl named Hannah Baker, portrayed by Katherine Langford, who leaves behind 13 mysterious audio recordings on cassette tapes after killing herself. She addresses each recording to a person who she says played a role in the decision to end her life.

Netflix said in a statement Tuesday, “This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.”

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for American youth between the ages of 10 and 24, and it results in approximately 4,600 lives lost each year, according to the CDC. Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide, but girls are more likely to report attempting suicide. The new study did not measure suicide attempts.

“Youth may be particularly susceptible to suicide contagion,” said Jeff Bridge, first author of the study, director of the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s and professor of pediatrics, psychiatry and behavioral health at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, in a statement.

Bridge explained that contagion can be “fostered by stories that sensationalize or promote simplistic explanations of suicidal behavior, glorify or romanticize the decedent, present suicide as a means of accomplishing a goal, or offer potential prescriptions of how-to die by suicide.”

After the show launched, many schools and school districts sent letters to parents offering caution and guidance for those watching it. Questions were raised about whether the show’s creators were doing enough to accurately and responsibly portray suicide, and debate ensued over whether the discussions prompted by the show were helpful or harmful.

Netflix added a warning video and additional crisis resources for viewers.

Yet swift condemnation from mental health experts continued. In a blog post, John Ackerman, co-author of the new study, wrote at the time that when a suicide occurs, it is almost always in the midst of an intense emotional crisis, and it is unrealistic for a teenager in such a state to construct an elaborate series of recordings.

Ackerman, now a suicide prevention coordinator at the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, also criticized the show’s portrayal of the common adolescent fantasy “you’ll be sorry when I’m gone!” explaining that teens should not be led to believe that something shocking and permanent is the only way to help others understand their pain.

“Portraying suicide as the inevitable outcome of Hannah’s victimization was, at best, a missed opportunity and, at worst, dangerous to those vulnerable to suicide,” Ackerman wrote.

Another recent study found that students who watched the full second season of the show were less likely to report self-harm and thoughts of ending their lives than students who didn’t watch “13 Reasons Why” at all, potentially because the characters come together and discuss suicide. Students who didn’t watch the entire second season had a higher risk of future suicide, according to the results.

The authors of that study concluded that shows depicting suicide can have both adverse and beneficial effects on teens.

“Parents should be cautious about exposing youth to this series,” Ackerman said in a statement. “With a third season of the series expected to air soon, continued surveillance is needed to monitor potential consequences on suicide rates in association with viewing the series.”

 

The National Suicide Hotline can be reached at1-800-273-8255 or at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

You can also download the SAFEUT App https://safeut.med.utah.edu/

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

CNN

Members of the Palestinian civil defense extinguish a fire in a building in the east of Rafah, the ...

Richard Roth and Tara John, CNN

US proposes a ‘temporary ceasefire’ in Gaza in draft UN resolution

The United States has proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas

17 hours ago

Exercise particularly reduced risk of death for women, according to the data....

Madeline Holcombe, CNN

Women might lower their risk for cardiovascular disease by twice the amount as men with exercise

The benefits of exercise are great for everyone – but may be even better for women, according to a new study.

20 hours ago

The 2024 BAFTA Film Awards are being presented on Sunday at the Royal Festival Hall in London, Engl...

Alli Rosenbloom and Thomas Page, CNN

BAFTA Awards 2024: See who won

“Oppenheimer” was a big winner at the 2024 BAFTA Film Awards, which were presented Sunday at the Royal Festival Hall.

2 days ago

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump carries a pair of his new signa...

Kate Sullivan, CNN

Trump launches sneaker line a day after judge’s order to pay nearly $355 million

Donald Trump launched a sneaker line, a day after he and his companies were ordered by a judge to pay nearly $355 million.

2 days ago

Trevor Brown, 45, a member of the Sterling Volunteer Fire Company, died in the explosion....

Christal Hayes, Paradise Afshar and Rebekah Riess, CNN

Virginia home explodes with fire crews inside, leaving firefighter dead and 13 injured, officials say

A house exploded in Virginia as fire crews were inside checking a gas leak, leaving one firefighter dead and at least 13 others injured.

2 days ago

A police officer stands inside Lakewood Church, Sunday, February 18, in Houston....

Ashley R. Williams, Jeanne Bonner and Raja Razek, CNN

Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church resumes Sunday service one week after shooting that left 7-year-old boy injured

Services at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston resumed Sunday morning with a large security presence.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Teen suicide rates spiked after debut of Netflix show ’13 Reasons Why,’ study says