After Debut of Netflix Drama, Teen Suicides Hit 19-Year High

Researchers suspect there was a 13 Reasons Why link
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2019 4:14 AM CDT
Updated Apr 30, 2019 6:41 AM CDT
Study: Teen Suicides Spiked After 13 Reasons Why
Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker in a scene from the series, "13 Reasons Why."   (Beth Dubber/Netflix via AP, File)

There was a disturbing jump in teen and tween suicides in the month after Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why made its debut, researchers say. The researchers analyzed federal data on suicides among people 10 to 64 from Jan. 2013 through Dec. 2017 and found that the month with the most suicides among children among 10 to 17 was April 2017, the month after the show's March 31, 2017 debut. The researchers say the suicide rate among that age group remained higher for the rest of the year, with an estimated 195 more suicides in the nine months after the show aired than in the same period in preceding years, the AP reports. The series is about a teen girl's suicide, but researchers found the increase in suicides was almost entirely among boys, the New York Times reports.

Study author Jeff Bridge, a suicide researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, says the teen suicide rate that April was the highest in 19 years. The show had "a very graphic depiction of the suicide death," which can trigger other suicides, he says. The study's authors say they were unable to determine whether watching the show actually caused any suicides, though seasonal differences in the suicide rate and other factors were taken into account. "The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to the media," researcher Lisa Horowitz said in a release from the National Institutes of Health, which supported the study. Netflix says they have "worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly" and are looking into the latest research. (In 2017, researchers urged Netflix to pull the show.)

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