Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” is linked to the rise of online searches for terms related to suicide awareness but also how to conduct suicide, according to a new study published by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association).
The study, based on Google Trends data and conducted by John W. Ayers, PhD, Benjamin M. Althouse, PhD, and Eric C. Leas, PhD, found that the search phrase “how to commit suicide” rose 26 percent since the series debuted, while “suicide prevention” went up 23 percent and “suicide hotline number” climbed 21 percent.
“All suicide queries were 19 percent higher for the 19 days following the release of ’13 Reasons Why,’ reflecting 900,000 to 1.5 million more searches than expected,” the study says. “How to commit suicide” rose by 26 percent, while “how to kill yourself” rose by 9 percent.
The series, which debuted on Netflix in March, focuses on a high school student, Clay Jensen, whose friend Hannah Baker committed suicide, but left behind a series of cassette tapes detailing the 13 reasons why she ended her life.
The show attracted controversy over the series’ graphic depiction of the actual suicide. Mental health experts have expressed concern that the depiction could lead to copycat behavior from teen viewers.
However, the show appears to have also raised awareness of suicide prevention options. In May, WRAL reported that the number of calls to the suicide prevention hotline HopeLine in Raleigh, North Carolina nearly tripled since the series debuted.
“‘13 Reasons’ Why elevated suicide awareness, but it is concerning that searches indicating suicidal ideation also rose,” reads the study. “It is unclear whether any query preceded an actual suicide attempt. However, suicide search trends are correlated with actual suicides, media coverage of suicides concur with increased suicide attempts, and searches for precise suicide methods increased after the series’ release.”
The Journal of the American Medical Association is a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Netflix has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.