Study linking TV series to increase in suicides

A study conducted by the American government has linked an increase in teen suicides to Netflix’s drama ‘13 Reasons Why’. The research has concluded that this type of death involving people aged 10 to 17 worsened by 28.9% one month after the series’ launch in April 2017.

The study was conducted through the joint efforts of various universities, hospitals and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in the United States to identify the fluctuations in suicide cases in the country. The results revealed that the number of self-inflicted deaths in April 2017 rose higher than in any other month within a span of five years.

‘The results should serve as an alert to show that young people are especially sensitive to the content that is exhibited by the media’, warns Lisa Horowitz, scientist and author at NIMH. ‘Every professional, including those in media, should be mindful in being constructive and careful when dealing with themes related to public health’.

Netflix has said that it is analysing the results of the research. The company has stated through its press release that, ‘it is an extremely important theme and we have been working hard to ensure that we are dealing with it in a responsible manner’.

The series in question involves a young woman who leaves behind 13 recordings to explain why she killed herself. The show was received positively by critics and praised for promoting awareness of problems such as rape, bullying and self-harm. However, it generated controversy and debate over the way suicide was portrayed by glamorising it and giving too much detail on how the main character ended her life.

The researchers also recognise that other factors may influence a person to commit suicide, but the study reinforces the advice that anyone struggling through difficult times should stay away from things that might further influence them. It is like the saying, ‘you are what you eat’. But in this case, instead of food, consider music, programmes or anything that could ‘feed’ your mind positively or negatively.

As such, any activity, such as practising a hobby or getting in touch with nature, can have a positive impact and perhaps even turn around negative feelings. Here at the Universal Church, we offer daily sessions and meetings that will help keep people’s minds on something positive and reinvigorating. Check our full timetable, as well as our addresses to find your nearest branch. But if you need to talk to someone urgently, you can call our 24- hour helpline on 020 7686 6000, where there will be someone available to talk to.