SALT LAKE CITY — A new study says there was an 28.9% increase in suicides among Americans ages 10-17 in April 2017, which was the month following the release of “13 Reasons Why," on Netflix "after accounting for ongoing trends in suicide rates."
The study, published Monday in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that the reported suicide increase happened within the first month after the show dropped in 2017.
"The findings highlight the necessity of using best practices when portraying suicide in popular entertainment and in the media," according to the press release.
The number of suicides in the single month was higher than any other one month in the period that researchers examined for the study.
Throughout the rest of the year, there were 195 more youth suicides than predicted based on previous patterns between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2017, according to the study.
The researchers advise caution with this study, saying there could be a separate reason for the increase in suicides not associated with the Netflix show.
But the researchers took seasonal differences into account and identified recent trends before making this conclusion, according to The New York Times.
“They nicely controlled for this by looking across years and showing a discontinuity for this particular year only,” said Matthew K. Nock, a psychologist at Harvard, according to The New York Times.
According to The Associated Press, the researchers said an additional analysis found the April suicide rate when the show dropped was higher than any month in a 19-year history.
The study found boys were more likely than girls to kill themselves after the show dropped.
“13 Reasons Why” focuses on a female main character who commits suicide and leaves behind recorded tapes explaining why she killed herself. It’s based on a book of the same title by Jay Asher.
"This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly," Netflix said, according to The Associated Press.
Nock said more research needs to be done to reach a full understanding.
“Suicide rates bounce around a lot more when the cell sizes are low, as they are with kids aged 10 to 17 years. So, this new paper suggests there may be an association between ‘13 Reasons Why’ and the suicide rate,” Nock told The New York Times. “However, we must always be cautious when trying to draw causal conclusions from correlational data.”2 comments on this story
Still, the study’s findings raise questions about whether or not children, teens and young adults should watch “13 Reasons Why.”
"The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to the media," study co-author Lisa Horowitz, a staff scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health, said in a statement, according to NPR. "All disciplines, including the media, need to take good care to be constructive and thoughtful about topics that intersect with public health crises."