13 Reasons Why creator Brian Yorkey is speaking out against claims the show has led to a rise in teen suicides.
The TV writer and producer collaborated with series adviser and psychiatrist Rebecca Hedrick in a new column addressing the positive impact the teen drama series has had when it comes to shining a light on issues of bullying, mental health and suicide, as studies have associated the Netflix drama with a spike in suicide attempts among young people.
"With its unflinching depictions of the hurt teens can go through — anxiety, bullying, assault, depression and suicide — it helped lift the stigmas young people increasingly experience growing up today," Yorkey wrote of Jay Asher's book of which the series is based on in a new column for The Hollywood Reporter.
He added: "...when it came to turning the book into a TV series, our goal was to shed light on these same issues, helping teenagers understand they are not alone and don't have to suffer in secret."
Yorkey went into detail about how the scripts for the series are written with the help of psychiatrists, as well as experts in sexual assault, bullying, school counselors and teachers to ensure the show's most challenging scenes receive as realistic a portrayal as possible.
"...just as with the book, we've heard from people all around the world that the series gave them the courage to talk about issues they'd struggled to discuss before, including with their own families," Yorkey continued.
The series creator also listed "numerous" case studies that sought to examine the positive impact of the controversial series, with one finding that a majority of subjects admitted to bullying before watching season one and said they changed their behavior after watching the show.
"Another story showed that viewing 13 Reasons Why gave college students a better understanding of suicide but did not increase suicidal thoughts or behavior, Yorkey added, also boasting about the series winning a Mental Health America Media Ward in 2018.
After doubling down on how the show has increased conversations about mental health and the high school experience between parents and children, Yorkey and Hedrick acknowledged the claims of the negative impact the show has brought, including concerns for an increase in suicides.
Addressing many critics' concerns that the show caused increase in use of crisis call-center activity and online conversation and research on the subject, Yorkey claimed the evidence simply proves the show "actually encouraged people who were struggling to reach out for help."
When tackling the Los Angeles Times report on the study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control claiming the 13 Reasons Why had a correlation to increase in teen suicide, Yorkey claimed the data failed to prove the study's claims.
After showing evidence that other external factors could have also contributed to the rise shown in the data, which also showed the highest number in girls cam before the premiere of the show, Yorkey made the point that depression and suicide have been increasing for some time now, and 13 Reasons Why is far from first show to tackle those issues in a graphic way.
"13 Reasons Why is not the first show to take on these hard topics, nor is it the first to be graphic in its storytelling. But we believe it was the honest, unflinching way the show looked at bullying, rape and suicide that helped get the world talking — and for the better," he wrote.