Study Claims Netflix Original Series ‘13 Reasons Why' Increases Suicide Risks

© AP Photo / Christophe EnaThe logo of American entertainment company Netflix is pictured at the Paris games week in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017.
The logo of American entertainment company Netflix is pictured at the Paris games week in Paris, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. - Sputnik International
No stranger to controversy, Netflix's original series "13 Reasons Why" is yet again causing buzz, but this time it's due to a recent study from the University of Michigan which found that it may be increasing the risk of teen suicide.

The research surveyed a total of 87 teenagers who were receiving treatment in psychiatric emergency departments for suicide-related concerns between 2017 and 2018. Of those asked to complete a questionnaire during their visit, the majority identified as female, with smaller portions of the group being male and gender nonconforming.

Published in the Psychiatric Services journal on Tuesday, the study concluded that 49 percent of teenagers surveyed had watched at least one episode of the first season of the show, and that 84 percent of those had watched it alone.

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Furthermore, the study stated that over half of the viewers believed that watching the series increased their suicide risk because they were able to identify with the lead character of the show, Hannah Baker, who kills herself in the drama after recording all her reasons why and calling out the individuals she blames on several cassette tapes.

"To date, this is the first published study examining viewing patterns and reactions to ‘13 Reasons Why' in a high-risk sample," the study states. "Although further research is needed, the findings suggest a particular vulnerability to the show's themes among youths at risk of suicide and the importance of prevention strategies to ameliorate risk among these viewers."

Victor Hong, the lead study author, told BuzzFeed News that he hopes the research will encourage the entertainment industry to take note of the advice that's being given by medical consultants.

"I believe that a lot of these producers are consulting mental health experts; what I am not sure of is if they are actually heeding their recommendations," Hong told the outlet. The researcher also indicated that he decided to look deeper into the show after he noticed a spike in suicidal teens mentioning it as an influential factor.

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The study comes months after Northwestern University published research, commissioned by Netflix, to look into the show's impact on viewers. That study found that many viewers could relate to the material and that it helped facilitate conversations about depression, suicide, bullying and sexual assault.

Following the release of the first season of "13 Reasons Why" in early 2017, Netflix opted to create a warning video that would play prior to every episode after it was criticized for how the series depicted suicide. The warning features the show's actors, out of character, advising viewers who are struggling with issues tackled on the show to either avoid watching, or to continue watching the show with a trusted adult.

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