The Netflix series 13 Reasons Why raised awareness about teen suicide and created a platform for discussion around a topic that’s not discussed often enough. Now a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine is showing a significant increase in internet searches related to suicide in the days following the release of the series.
According to the study, all suicide queries were cumulatively 19 percent higher for the 19 days following the release of the series, reflecting 900,000 to 1.5 million more searches than expected. Some of the search terms focused on suicidal ideation (such as "how to commit suicide" and "how to kill yourself"), which prompted the analysts to suggest that the series unintentionally increased suicidal ideation. Others focused on how to get help, with searches like "suicide hotline," "suicide prevention," and "suicide hotline number."
The study did not look at whether any of these searches led to actual suicides or suicide attempts, and it’s important to remember that reading something on the internet does not, by any means, equate to doing that thing in real life. (We’d live in a very strange world if it did.) It's not surprising that a provocative and highly watchable series about the stigmatized and often misunderstood topic of teen suicide would motivate people to find out more.