Suicides among young people spiked following release of Netflix’s ‘13 Reasons Why,’ study says

Suicides among children aged 10 to 17 in the U.S. spiked to a 19-year high in the month following the release of Netflix’s controversial drama series “13 Reasons Why,” according to a new study.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, can’t prove the show was the direct cause. However, it said given historical and seasonal suicide trends, there were 195 more youth suicides than would have been expected in the nine months following the March 2017 release of “13 Reasons Why.”

The study, published Monday in the “Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,” stated during April 2017 alone, 190 U.S. tweens and teens took their own lives. Their April 2017 suicide rate was .57 per 100,000 people, nearly 30 percent higher than in the preceding five years included in the study. An additional analysis found that the April rate was higher than in the previous 19 years, said lead author Jeff Bridge, a suicide researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.


Cast of "13 Reasons Why."

Cast of "13 Reasons Why." (REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

"The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to the media," Lisa Horowitz, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. "All disciplines, including the media, need to take good care to be constructive and thoughtful about topics that intersect with public health crises."

Horowitz noted suicide is the second leading cause of death for U.S. teens and called it “a major public health crisis.”

"The creators of the series intentionally portrayed the suicide of the main character. It was a very graphic depiction of the suicide death," which can trigger suicidal behavior, Bridge told The Associated Press.

Bridge acknowledged that the study’s limitations included not knowing that those who died by taking their own lives had watched the Netflix series. Also, the researchers were not able to account for other factors that might have influenced suicides, like former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez taking his own life on April 19, 2017.

“Females of all ages are three times more likely to attempt suicide, but males are four times more likely to complete it,” Horowitz said, according to The New York Times. “Any increase among girls may have come in attempts.”


“13 Reasons Why’s” protagonist Hannah Baker takes her own life at the end of the first season by slitting her wrists while sitting in a bathtub. Following criticism, Netflix added warning messages before episodes and created a website with crisis hotlines and other resources. The second season of the show came under scrutiny as well following a graphic sexual assault scene. The third season of the show is slated to be released this year.

A Netflix spokesperson told Fox News in a statement, "We've just seen this study and are looking into the research, which conflicts with last week’s study from the University of Pennsylvania. This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.