The level of suicides among teenagers in the U.S. rose after the premiere of the show about suicide “13 reasons why”

The number of suicides among adolescents aged 10 to 17 years in the United States significantly increased a month after the premiere of the series “13 reasons why”, dedicated to the suicide of a schoolgirl found by the authors of the articlepublished in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The authors of the study do not assess a causal relationship and we cannot exclude that the suicide rate was affected by unaccounted factors, but commenting on the work of third party experts point out its high quality.

“13 reasons why” (13 Reasons Why) is a series of online service Netflix, tells the story of a schoolgirl who killed herself and left a classmate tapes description 13 reasons for his suicide. The series premiere took place on 31 March 2017, he is now renewed for a third season. In the United States show, in particular, has sparked debate about the permissibility of such artistic representation of suicide and its potential impact on the statistics on actual suicides (in other words, does it work for series the Werther effect).

To answer these questions, Jeffrey bridge (princes Bridge) from the research Institute at the National children’s hospital, USA, and his colleagues analyzed monthly statistics of suicides among Americans aged 10 to 64 years old adjusted for seasonal factors and the overall multi-year trend. They were able to show that in April 2017, the rate of suicide among adolescents aged 10-17 grew by 28.9 percent (95 percent confidence interval 9-53%), which is significantly more than predicted only on the basis of seasonality and trend level. The total number of suicides in this age category in the month exceeded the corresponding figure for any other month in which they assessed the five-year period from 2013 to 2017.

The level of suicides was significantly higher in March (when Netflix has been promoting the series), April, June and December 2017 — in absolute numbers, this 195 additional suicides over the period from April to December 2017. According to scientists, the main driver of growth were teenage boys: for girls, the level also increased, but not statistically significant. No new trends in the suicide rate of people aged 18 to 64 years, as trends in the homicide rate during the same period (which the researchers used as a benchmark to search for possible extraneous environmental factors), was not found.

“Suicide is a global problem, and to reduce their number very difficult. The last thing we need is something that increases it”, — told the New York Times co-author with Lisa Horowitz. A representative of Netflix told the newspaper that the company study the article, and added that its conclusions contradict the findings of another recent study on the same topic.

From the editor
We have added text to clarify: it is worth noting that two articles and the current article in Social Science and Medicine, which refers the company is dedicated to different seasons of the series and use different methods (in the second study, the researchers conducted a survey). We should more explicitly indicate that the contrasting conclusions of these two works insists it is representative of Netflix, not us. The editors apologized to their readers.

In addition, in the second paragraph of the news in the context of the discussion of the series after the publication of the notes we have added mention of the Werther effect.

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