Study Claims 13 Reasons Why Is To Blame For Rise In Suicide Google Searches
The Debrief: ‘How to commit suicide?’ searches have risen by an alarming 26% more than they anticipated – but both ‘suicide prevention’ and ‘suicide hotline,’ rose by 23% and 21%.
When Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why was released, it not only made news for its noteworthy new talented cast and poignant subject matter, but also for claims that the show ‘glorified suicide.’ There were concerns that the show, which was created in an attempt to raise awareness for teenage suicide, did the exact opposite. And now a study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal appears to back up this concern.
The study says that there were at least 900, 000 more (than expected) Google searches that included the word ‘suicide’ in the weeks following the shows release. Searches included ‘suicide methods,’ ‘suicide ideation,’ ‘suicide hotlines,’ and ‘suicide prevention.’ The study went on to claim that the question ‘how to commit suicide?’ was searched a huge 26% more than they anticipated – but both ‘suicide prevention’ and ‘suicide hotline,’ rose by 23% and 21%.
Some felt the show glamorised suicide and even advised against watching it due to graphic scenes. There’s no denying that it was controversial, and its very subject matter makes it a difficult thing to talk about openly, especially on TV viewed by thousands on a daily basis. This study is a scary reflection – although it does not make any connection to the actual number of suicides commited in this period, and there's no way of knowing for certain the intention behind all those searches.
And it’s also important to recognise that in the rise of ‘suicide prevention’ and ‘suicide hotline’ more and more people are searching for a way out, and while the search findings are worrying, that’s a positive outcome.
Whatever way you look at it, 13 Reasons Why is controversial, and has opened a difficult conversation that no show has done so before. With its mixed responses, it’s hard to know if the show has done what it set out to do, to raise awareness for those struggling with their mental health – but it’s definitely opened up an important discussion.
If you or anyone you know is suffering, please contact a mental health hotline.
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