Denver, Colo., Jun 7, 2019 / 15:00 pm America/Denver (CNA).
When the Netflix series ‘13 Reasons Why’, which features teen suicide, first aired in 2017, mental health professionals expressed concerns that the show could have a contagion effect, triggering an increase in suicides among teens inspired by the show.
A new study suggests these fears were not unfounded. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, United States youth ages 10-17 had a 28.9% increase in suicide rates in young males in the month (April 2017) following the debut of the show.
“The number of deaths by suicide recorded in April 2017 was greater than the number seen in any single month during the five-year period examined by the researchers,” the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reported. Increases in suicide rates among youth were also found in the month leading up to the shows release, and through December 2017, nine months after its release.
“The findings highlight the necessity of using best practices when portraying suicide in popular entertainment and in the media,” NIMH stated in a press release on the study.
The study was conducted by multiple researchers from several different universities, hospitals, and the NIMH, which also funded the study. The study found that the increase in suicides was statistically significant among young males. The increase in suicides among young females in association with the show was not statistically significant.
For the study, researchers analyzed death rates due to suicide based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web-based Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research.
Researchers found the increase in suicide rates even after adjusting for otherwise expected suicide rates during that time period, based on ongoing suicide trends. They also found that suicide rates did not increase during the studied time period for people ages 18-64.