Is '13 Reasons Why' Helping Kids Kill Themselves?

Image Katherine Langford from the Netflix Series 13 Reasons Why

Katherine Langford from the Netflix series"13 Reasons Why. Beth Dubber Netflix

Other terms that spiked were "suicide hotline number" (a 21 percent increase in searches) and "teen suicide" (a 34 percent spike).

Though Netflix and the creators and cast of the series have defended the show's portrayal of suicide as an uncomfortable but necessary conversation-starter, the new study finds search terms related to suicidal ideation rose much more than terms related to suicide awareness or prevention.

Research, led by John Ayers, a professor in the San Diego University Graduate School of Public Health, found that suicide queries rose 19% above average following the show's release. She leaves behind thirteen cassette tapes she had recorded before - one for each of those she thought were responsible for her death.

The researchers analyzed Google searchers from the day the show was first broadcast - March 31 - to April 18, a date selected before the suicide of former National Football League player Aaron Hernandez (as it could have potentially contaminated the trends).

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The study says that there were at least 900, 000 more (than expected) Google searches that included the word "suicide" in the weeks following the shows release.

"Our analyses suggest 13 Reasons Why, in its present form, has both increased suicidal awareness while unintentionally increasing suicidal ideation", wrote the authors of the paper.

They found a 19 percent increase in all suicide search inquiries, particularly "how to commit suicide", "commit suicide", and "how to kill yourself". It compared how often these terms were searched 19 days after the show was released with the same searches in the three months leading up to the series premiere. "This is an interesting quasi experimental study that confirms this", Netflix said in a statement sent to U.S. media.

In the paper, the researchers said that the show, whose second season is now being filmed, could have followed World Health Organization's media guidelines for preventing suicide, in order to reduce such associations with suicide ideation. Peter Chui, the deceased's uncle, told KTVU that the two-minute scene where the lead character, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), slit her wrists in the bathtub probably was the trigger for Priscilla to commit suicide due to its very graphic nature.

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Still, the show could have gone farther to avoid triggering suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, said Kimberly McManama O'Brien, co-author of an accompanying editorial and a psychiatry researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston. They have advised that suicide prevention numbers should be provided at the end of every episode and the scenes showing the act should be deleted from the show.

The WHO also advises people in the media to provide information about where to seek help whenever producing content about suicide.

"We always believed this show would increase discussion around this tough subject matter. We are looking forward to more research and taking everything we learn to heart as we prepare for Season 2". According to Forbes, many people acknowledged the importance of recognizing the existing problems teens have to face in real life including depression, sexual assault, bullying, cyberbullying and suicide. It recently took the crown as the most tweeted-about series in 2017 so far, and has sparked furious debate about whether it exposes people to suicide in a potentially unsafe way, or is a catalyst for healthy conversations about suicide prevention.

Season two of the controversial series premieres on Netflix in 2018, according to E!

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