'13 Reasons Why': Netflix Slammed by PTC President for 'Morally Bankrupt' Response to Increase in Teen Suicides Question

Following a number of studies linking 13 Reasons Why to an increase in teen suicide, the Parents Television Council (PTC) is slamming Netflix’s “morally bankrupt” response and decision not to remove the series from its streaming library.

In a statement from PTC President Tim Winter in response to Netflix CEO Reed Hasting’s acknowledgment of the studies, which report a 30 percent increase in teen suicides in the months following 13 Reasons Why’s debut, the watchdog group challenged the streamer’s decision to keep the series on its platform.

“While we appreciate that the one and only question you chose to address during your annual shareholder meeting came from us, the answer you gave is morally and logically bankrupt,” Winter’s statement reads. “If the link between an increase in teen suicides and one of your television programs is ‘critically important,’ as you suggest, then why is it still being distributed on your platform 37 days after NIH published their findings? The responsible thing to do is remove the program from your platform immediately, and keep it off until the program is proven not to be harmful to children.”

The PTC’s statement followed the Netflix shareholders meeting, during which Hastings “dodged” a question from the group asking “what are the board of directors and management of Netflix prepared to do” about the series in the wake of recent studies. Although Hastings acknowledged the studies and stated that the topic is “critically important,” he failed to address the PTC’s calls for the series’ temporary removal.

Although 13 Reasons Why has long been the center of controversy regarding the material it covers, two studies released in the month of May alone linked the teen-targeted series to a sharp increase in suicides among children aged 10 to 17 in the months directly following the Season 1 premiere.

In a study by researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, it was found that in the month following 13 Reasons Why’s debut, there was a 28.9 percent increase in suicide rates among people aged 10 to 17-years-old.

A second study published in Jama Psychiatry found a 13 percent increase in the suicide rate among children aged 10 to 19 in the first three months following the Season 1 release. The study also reported a higher rate among girls, at 21.7 percent.

In response to the studies, which follow a number of similar studies, Netflix stated that they were “looking into the research” and that this “is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.”

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Series creator Brian Yorkey also defended the Netflix original, writing that it has “helped lift the stigmas young people increasingly experience growing up today.”

Although both seasons of 13 Reasons Why are still available for streaming, Netflix has added a suicide warning message that plays at the beginning of every episode and warns viewers of potentially triggering material that may be included in the episode. The message also encourages viewers to seek help should they have suicidal thoughts.

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