One show that garnered as much appreciation as criticism has been Netflix’s ‘13 Reasons Why’. The audience of the show largely polarized into two groups, one appreciating the sheer honesty and graphic openness to talk about suicide, sexual abuse, and bullying, whereas the other group discarded the show for the glorification of suicides.
A new study reveals that ‘13 Reasons Why’ may have played a crucial role in increasing suicidal thoughts among young, impressionable viewers. Google searches for “How to commit suicide” increased dramatically to 26 percent after the show released.
Suicidal thoughts pave the path to suicide attempts according to psychologists. Moreover, suicide is the third biggest reason behind deaths of 15-24-year-olds in the US. Co-author on the study, John W. Ayers of San Diego State University told Fatherly,
Psychiatrists have expressed grave concerns, because the show ignores the World Health Organization’s validated media guidelines for preventing suicide.
Researchers found that after the release of the show a considerable increase has been detected in online searches for “Suicide hotlines” (12 percent) and “Suicide prevention” (23 percent). However, the alarming spike has been seen in searches for “How to kill yourself” (9 percent), “Commit suicide” (18 percent), and “How to commit suicide” (26 percent).
Ayers explains how the show could not achieve what they intended to, rather, it might have pushed youngsters onto the forsaken path.
I’d create a show that offers a message those contemplating suicide need to hear—a success story of how someone contemplating suicide sought and was given help, and persevered to have a full life. This is where 13 Reasons Why totally misses the mark.
John W. Ayers, along with his colleagues, expects Netflix to either remove the show or edit it to comply with the WHO’s guidelines which discourage content that centers around suicide.