“13 Reasons Why” quickly became one of the most controversial, talked-about shows of the year when it premiered on Netflix this spring. Front and center in the debate has been the question of whether or not it glorifies suicide. A new research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that, at least for some viewers, it does — and it may have even led to an increase in suicide attempts.
“For some viewers, the series glamorizes the victim and the suicide act in a way that promotes suicide, while other viewers hope the series raises suicide awareness,” says a letter authored by a behavioral scientist named John Ayers and his team. They then provide evidence of an increase in Google searches for both suicide prevention and instructions on how to actually commit suicide around the time that “13 Reasons Why” began streaming — mixed results, to be sure.
Their letter continues: “The deleterious effects of shows such as ‘13 Reasons Why’ could possibly be curtailed by following the World Health Organization’s media guidelines for preventing suicide, such as removing scenes showing suicide, or addressed by including suicide hotline numbers in each episode.” Read the full results here.