’13 Reasons Why’ generated more Google searches for methods of suicide

13 reasons why


The graphic and disturbing finale of the hit


the “13 Reasons Why” series was meant to be a statement.

It was intended to reveal the graphic nature of suicide – the real death – as slow, painful and ugly. It was designed, according to one of the show’s writersto counteract false narratives that portray suicide as a romantic means of proving people wrong or seeking revenge.

“I stand behind what we did 100%. I know it was good because my own life was saved when the truth about the suicide was finally revealed to me in all its horror – and reality,” he said. wrote “13 Reasons Why”. writer Nic Sheff in an op-ed for Vanity Fair after the premiere of the show.

Sadly, a new study suggests that while some people who watched the series were inspired by Google’s information on suicide prevention, just as many found themselves looking for information on how to commit suicide.

“The time for debate is over. The creators [of “13 Reasons Why”] need to quickly change their course of action, including scrapping the show and postponing a second season,” said John Ayers, behavioral scientist at San Diego State University and lead author of the study. “If this is not the case, subscribers should consider canceling their subscriptions so as not to support programs that may cause untimely death.”

13 reasons why


ayers paper, published July 31 in JAMA Internal Medicine, examined the evolution of suicide research on the Internet, both in volume and content, after the release of “13 Reasons Why”. The researchers were careful to exclude potential suicide-related news events as well as recent movies containing the word “suicide” (such as “Suicide Squad”).

In the roughly two weeks after the show premiered, they noted between 900,000 and 1.5 million more subject searches on suicide than would have been the norm, an increase of 19%.

Of the trending searches on the topic that grew the most, the majority were for suicidal ideation or thoughts about how to kill yourself. Searches for the phrase “how to kill yourself,” for example, were 26% higher than you might have expected, while the phrases “kill yourself” and “how to kill yourself” were 18% and 9 % higher, respectively.

This finding is a major cause for concern, Ayers said.

The search results were not all negative. Some research related to suicide prevention also increased after the show premiered. Queries for the phrase “suicide hotline number”, for example, were 21% higher than the norm, while searches for “suicide hotline” were 12% higher and searches for “suicide prevention” were 23% higher.

Regardless of the potential effects on Google searches, it’s important to note that the researchers don’t know what effect these searches had on behavior. They don’t know, for example, if someone who Googled a “suicide hotline” actually called – or if someone who searched for suicide methods attempted suicide.

“Additional monitoring will clarify our findings, including estimating changes in suicide attempts or calls to national suicide hotlines,” Ayers wrote in the paper.

The show’s release in March 2017 came nearly a year after the publication of a study suggesting that deaths by suicide in the United States had reached its highest level in 30 years. Analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics found that between 1999 and 2014, suicide rates increased by 24%the highest the country has seen since 1986.

While the steepest increases in suicide were among women and middle-aged Americans, suicides also rose sharply among girls between the ages of 10 and 14 — slightly younger than Hannah, the lead character in ’13 Reasons Why”. Although the increase in suicide deaths among this group was small compared to other groups, the spike was still dramatic, researchers say. told the New York Times.

“Psychiatrists have expressed serious concerns because the show ignores validated World Health Organization media guidelines to prevent suicide. The show’s staff continue to prefer their instincts,” Ayers said.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty with


or have thought about harming or killing themselves, get help. the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides free, confidential 24/7 support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to help with prevention and crisis situations .