A study published this week in Jama Psychiatry determined that although its research “does not provide definitive proof” that the series “is associated with harmful outcomes,” a total of 94 more children aged 10 to 19 died by suicide than had been expected, a 13 percent increase, in the first three months following the Season 1 release.
The study also found that that among the deaths, suicide rates in girls went up more than for boys, with a respective 21.7 percent and 12.4 percent increase.
The dates of the increase in suicide rates among teenagers coincided with peak "public interest in the show,” during which social media data showed that interest was "highest in April 2017 and was negligible after June 2017.”
Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, the lead author of the paper and head of the Suicide Research & Mental Health Promotion unit at the Medical University of Vienna, added in an email to MedPage Today that while the series portrays common issues facing teenagers, including bullying, substance use, and break-ups, it also presented suicide as a “logical consequence” to those issues.
“At the same time, however, the series portrayed suicide as a logical consequence of these problems, and getting help from others, including adults as well as professionals, was portrayed as being futile," Niederkrotenthaler wrote. “The observation that the increase occurred immediately after the release of the series, that it was restricted to the age-group of adolescents, and that the proportional increase was stronger among girls, consistent with the female main character in the series, were all consistent with an imitation effect."
Responding the research, as well as the continued criticism from subscribers and parents, series creator Ben Yorkie wrote the 13 Reasons Why has “helped lift the stigmas young people increasingly experience growing up today.” He added that evidence proves the show "actually encouraged people who were struggling to reach out for help."0comments
In the streaming service’s own statement, Netflix stated that “this is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.”
Despite the backlash, studies, and calls from various groups to end the series, 13 Reasons Why has been renewed for Season 3, which is expected to premiere later this year.