As reported by The Wrap, a new study in published the Journal Of The American Academy Of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry has detered that there was a nearly 29 percent increase in teen suicides in the United States in April of 2017, the month after the premiere of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why—which involved a high school girl explaining why she committed suicide in a series of tapes recorded before her death. The study looked at five years of data leading up to the premiere of the show, and the increase in 2017 was the highest that the researchers saw, with Carnegie Mellon professor Joel Greenhouse—one of the authors of the study—saying it was “more than what would be expected by just chance variation.”
That being said, it would be wildly irresponsible to directly connect these statistics to 13 Reasons Why based only on this information. The National Institute Of Health specifically noting that one “cannot make a causal link” between the show and the actual suicide data because, for one thing, the study didn’t address whether the teenagers had actually watched 13 Reasons Why. Also, it didn’t extend to 2018, when the show’s second season aired. However, a study from the University Of Pennsylvania that was released just last week determined that viewers who watched the second season of the show “reported declines in suicide ideation and self-harm relative to those who did not watch the show at all.” Again, though, that might not mean much because that study didn’t include the first season of the show. Basically, these studies do not provide definitive proof one way or another about whether 13 Reasons Why contributed to an increase in teen suicides.
Netflix has repeatedly insisted that it keeps research like this in mind when it comes to 13 Reasons Why and has since added disclaimers to each episode and set up a website about suicide prevention. It has also released a statement about these specific studies, saying:
We’ve just seen the study and are looking into the research, which conflicts with last week’s study from the University of Pennsylvania. It’s a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.