After the release of the controversial Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, scientists found a 13.3 percent increase in teenagers' deaths from suicide. This is the second study released this month that found a rise in youth suicides around the time the show premiered. Mental health researchers are, as a result, more concerned than ever about how suicide is portrayed in the media - because suicide can be "contagious."
About 94 more kids ages 10 to 19 died than expected during the period of this study, which was published this week in JAMA Psychiatry. Because there's no way to tell whether the people who died by suicide during this time actually watched the show, the study "does not provide definitive proof" that 13 Reasons Why, which focuses on a teenage girl's death by suicide, "is associated with harmful outcomes," the authors note in the paper. They did, however, find the increase in death "concerning."
Experts worry about people being exposed to depictions of suicide or suicidal behavior, because for some vulnerable groups - especially young adults - that exposure can lead to increased suicidal behavior or suicide attempts, an effect known as suicide contagion. The people most at risk tend to be people who are already at risk.
From the time that the show was released, the mental health community was extremely worried that the series' portrayal of suicide might result in people - especially young people who identified with the main character - imitating her suicide, the lead author of the paper, Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, told The Verge in an email. Among the deaths of people aged 10-19, Niederkrotenthaler and his colleagues found that proportionally, suicide rates in girls went up more than for boys.
自這部劇開播以來，心理健康圈就十分擔心這一系列有關自殺的節目給人造成的影響--尤其是和劇中主角一樣的年輕人--會不會模仿她的自殺，研究的主要作者Thomas Niederkrotenthaler在寫給The Verge雜志的一封郵件中說道。在10至19歲少年的死亡事件中，Niederkrotenthaler和他的同事發現：按比例而言，女生的自殺率高于男生。
Niederkrotenthaler, the head of the Suicide Research & Mental Health Promotion unit at the Medical University of Vienna, was frustrated by the show and worried about teenagers who were already vulnerable. "It just appeared as such a missed opportunity - to see this talented team of film-makers and actors / actresses who said they wanted to start a conversation on suicide prevention and mental health." Niederkrotenthaler says.