13 reasons whyA Netflix program that explores why its protagonist died of suicide sparked a debate among the research community about whether this contributed to an increase in suicide rates. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings responded to this allegation after the first season, saying "no one has to watch it." But after another study linking an increase in suicide rates among teens to the program made headlines this week, the streaming service took a little less ruthless attitude.
"We have just seen this study and we are investigating the research, which conflicts with the University of Pennsylvania's study last week," a Netflix spokesman told Gizmodo in an email on Tuesday. "This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly."
The spokesman linked an article detailing a study published in the journal Social Science and Medicine this month. This study found that of the adults between 18 and 29 years old surveyed, those who finished the second season of the program, which was released in May last year, have had beneficial effects. But the surveyed adults who did not finish the season had a greater risk of suicide. They are not exactly the most reassuring findings given to the opposition, but they undermine the new study that reinvigorates debate over whether the program is linked to an increase in suicides.
The most recent research was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. It turned out that in the nine months after the launch of the program, there were 195 suicides among 10 to 17 year olds than expected based on historical data.
Specifically, in April 2017, the month after the release, 190 US youths died of suicide, which is about 30% higher than suicide rates five years earlier, USA Today reported. But these findings are hardly conclusive, given other possible factors or events occurring around the same series release period that may be linked to those suicides.
It is not yet clear exactly how Netflix will respond to the concerns of researchers and critics, but if the story is an indication, showrunners are unlikely to cancel the program altogether after this crisis.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or send a text to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.