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CHC in the Press: Online Searches About Suicide Climbed After ’13 Reasons Why’ Premiere

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August 1, 2017, News

Internet searches related to suicide increased 19% in the three weeks after the premiere of the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, found new research. That increase translated to approximately 900,000 to 1.5 million more searches than would be expected without the show.

Researchers used Google Trends to compare Internet searches for the word “suicide” during the 19 days after the show’s release to the frequency of searches that would typically occur without the show.

The analysis revealed that suicide-related searches ranged from 15% to 44% higher than expected on 12 of the 19 days after the show’s premiere. An analysis of related search terms showed that 17 of the top 20 related searches were also higher than expected during the same period. Many of those related to suicidal thoughts or plans. Searches were 26% higher for “how to commit suicide,” 18% higher for “commit suicide” and 9% higher for “how to kill yourself.”

But searches related to help-seeking and awareness also rose: “suicide hotline number” searches increased 21%, “suicide hotline” increased 12%, “suicide prevention” increased 23%, and “teen suicide” increased 34%.

When the show first aired, multiple organizations published guidance for parents, emphasizing the value of parents watching and discussing the show with their children (ideally none under age 13, the AAP recommends) and not assuming their children had not seen it.

“If your kids have watched 13 Reasons Why or plan to watch it, it’s critical that you watch the program too so you are aware of the content,” said Dr. Anna Parnes and Jennifer Leydecker of the Children’s Health Council. “We strongly suggest parent caution, monitoring and dialogue about the program and its topics of suicide, survivor guilt, sexual assault and bullying and shaming.”

Netflix acknowledged concerns about the show and, after the media attention, addressed them, even if the producers’ creative decisions remained at odds with professionals’ concerns. The company produced a 30-minute documentary 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons in which “the cast, producers and mental health professionals discuss scenes dealing with difficult issues, including bullying, depression and sexual assault.”

The content above was excerpted from an article published on 07/31/17 on Forbes.com. Read the full article here. Also see the CHC News article, “13 Reasons Why:  Important Update,” published on 05/04/17.


If you or someone you know or love is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 800 273 8255 or contact Crisis Text Line by texting BAY to 741741.
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