Teen Suicides Surge 29% After Netflix Airs “13 Reasons” Series


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If you need another reason to dump Netflix, here’s the latest.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the CDC. Studies show that publicized suicides do trigger a ripple effect of additional suicides within communities.

13 Reasons Why” is a Netflix TV series, executive-produced by Selena Gomez, based on a novel by Jay Asher, 43, a writer of contemporary novels for teens, about 17 year-old Hannah Baker, who killed herself. Before she committed suicide, she made 13 cassette tapes, addressed to 13 persons at her school, detailing how and why they contributed to her desire to take her own life. The TV show also graphically depicts Baker’s suicide in a scene in which she slits her wrists and lets her blood spill into her bathtub at home.

Note: In 2017, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) expelled Asher for sexual harassment.SCBWI executive director Lin Oliver wrote in an email to The Guardian:

Both Jay Asher and [prize-winning illustrator ] David Diaz were found to have violated the SCBWI code of conduct in regard to harassment. Claims against them were investigated and, as a result, they are no longer members and neither will be appearing at any SCBWI events in the future. Both have been expelled from the SCBWI and are not welcome as members, faculty or speakers.

Before and after Netflix aired the first season of “13 Reasons Why” on March 31, 2017, and a second season on May 18, 2018, warnings and alarms were raised about the show:

  • Several mental health groups, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, had condemned the show as romanticizing suicide.
  • The UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children reported that young people had cited the show as a trigger for suicidal thoughts.
  • In April 2017, a Florida schools superintendent warned parents that the show was inspiring an increase in self-harming and suicidal threats among elementary and middle school students.
  • survey published in November 2018 found that of 87 suicidal teenagers aged 13 to 17 who were taken to the emergency department, 43 of them said that they had watched at least one episode of “13 Reasons Why”. Of those who had seen the show, 21 reported that they believe it had increased their risk for suicide.
  • In May 2019, Don Mordecai, Kaiser Permanente’s national leader for mental health, told Business Insider: “There was a kind of romanticization, and at the core of the story was this idea that you can kill yourself and be dead and yet not really be dead. Because, of course, (Baker) continues to be a character – she’s in scenes, and she’s still there in many ways.”

Now, a study has confirmed that the Netflix show indeed triggers teen suicides.

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