Netflix is speaking out after a recent study showed a spike in teen suicides following the debut of 13 Reasons Why.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry by researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, showed that a month after the series premiered its first season on March 31, 2017, the suicide rate among 10- to 17-year-olds jumped 28.9 percent compared to the month before, and that there were a reported 195 more youth suicides than predicted in the nine months after the series was released.
Responding to the study, which followed a number of other studies showing similar results, Netflix claimed that they are “looking into the research.”
“We’ve just seen this study and are looking into the research, which conflicts with last week’s study from the University of Pennsylvania,” a Netflix spokesperson told Gizmodo in an email, referring to another recent study in which it was showed that 18 to 29 year olds who finished the series had beneficial results, while those who did not finish the second season had a higher risk of suicide.
“This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly,” the streamer’s statement concluded.
The Netflix original teen drama, based on Jay Asher’s young adult novel of the same name, has long been criticized for its glorification of suicide and other traumatizing issues facing teens, including sexual assault. The graphic material even prompted the series to include a suicide warning message ahead of episodes, in which the cast encouraged viewers to seek help if they have suicidal thoughts and urged them to avoid watching the series if the subject matter may be triggering.
Still, the message was not enough for many, and the Parents Television Council has continuously urged the streamer to cancel the series, citing the potential harm that it can do to young and impressionable viewers, it’s target audience.
“Netflix has delivered a ticking time bomb to teens and children who watch 13 Reasons Why," the PTC said in a statement. “The content and thematic elements of the second season are even worse than we expected. We would have liked to have 13 reasons for hope and redemption following the graphic suicide of the lead female teen character, but rather than providing a path forward, the season only provides cause for despondency."0comments
Despite the backlash, Netflix has not refrained from giving the series a third season, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even stated that although the series is “controversial,” “nobody has to watch it.” At the time, he added that the show is engaging, successful and "enormously popular."
Seasons 1 and 2 of 13 Reasons Why are currently available for streaming. Season 3 does not yet have a premiere date.