Trigger warning: this article contains discussion of suicide and self-harm
The first season of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why may have come and gone, but the attacks and outcry against the series’ intense and graphical themes remain unrelenting.
Now while the arguments can and have been made about “why depressed people are watching such a show” or “13 Reasons Why just portrays suicide in a non-watered down way” etc, the fact is that regardless of the argument or perspective the stats on suicide, self-harm and threats of both are skyrocketing.
According to a paper released by JAMA (The Journal of the American Medicine Association) the not-so pretty picture gets even worse.
Using data taken from Google Trends between March 31-April 18 of this year researchers found that within that time frame word searches pertaining to suicide had risen by a horrifying 19%. That’s at least 900,000 more searches than normal in a period of less than 20 days.
The exact numbers for the word searches are as follows:
- “Commit suicide/how to commit suicide” up by 18% and 26% respectively.
- “How to kill yourself” up by 9%
- General suicide queries rose by 15% on April 15
- And by another 29% on the April 18.
It’s worth pointing out that the journals authors did say that,
“the results were unclear whether any query preceded an actual suicide attempt…however, suicide search trends are correlated with actual suicides, media coverage of suicides concur with increased suicide attempts, and searches for precise suicide methods increased after the series’ release.”
With a second season of 13 Reasons Why already forecast we can only hope that producers are more conscientious of how they represent suicide this time round.
If you or somebody you know are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts contact the Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. Or click here to chat online with someone between 3pm-12am daily. If you need immediate medical assistance or are at risk of self harm, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.