13 Reasons Why launched on Netflix over two years ago, and some are still worried about what it’s saying to the teen generation (Picture: Netflix)The creators of Netflix TV show 13 Reasons Why have refuted the possible link with an increase in teen suicide in the US.
Brian Yorkey, who created and executive produced the series, says a 2019 study in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry actually failed to prove that a spike in male or female suicides could be linked to the show.
The study looked at five years of suicide rates for people aged 10 to 64 between 2013 and 2017 in order to estimate any association with the release of Jay Asher’s 2007 book as a TV series.
In a think piece for The Hollywood Reporter, Yorkey points out that the study set out to prove that young females would be most affected, because the story centres around the suicide of bullied 17-year-old Hannah Baker (played by Katherine Langford).
13 Reasons Why has sparked much debate since it launched on Netflix in 2017 (Picture: Netflix)However, an increase around the time of the launch was actually shown in boys, while rates remained stable for adolescent girls.
The highest recorded month for girls was, in fact, November 2016, the report states, yet the show launched six months later, on March 31, 2017.
When originally published, the research purported to show that suicide rates increased among boys aged 10 to 17 the month after the series was first released – specifically, a 28.9 percent increase.
But Yorkey argues that the data actually reveals that the increase began in late February and early March, before the show even arrived on Netflix.
A Netflix spokesperson told Metro.co.uk at the time: ‘We’ve just seen this study and are looking into the research, which conflicts with last week’s study from the University of Pennsylvania.
The series centres around teenagers Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) and Hannah (Katherine Langford) and what could have been (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)‘It’s a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.’
The University of Pennsylvania study cited by Netflix showed that there may be reduced suicide risk for young viewers who watch the series to the end, and Yorkey supports this theory.
He says: ‘Our goal was to shed light on issues [of anxiety, bullying, assault, depression and suicide], helping teenagers understand they are not alone and don’t have to suffer in secret.
‘At every step, including for every script of the series, the writers and producers worked with psychiatrists, experts in sexual assault as well as bullying, school counselors and teachers to ensure that even the most challenging scenes were grounded in reality.
‘And just as with the book, we’ve heard from people all around the world that the series gave them the courage to talk about issues they’d struggled to discuss before, including with their own families.’
Yorkey posits that psychiatrists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that it prompted patients who watched the series to open a dialogue with their parents.
He also says that after Season 1, the US-based Crisis Text Line reported 70 per cent citing 13 Reasons Why as the impetus to seek help, and for 65 per cent of them, it was their first chance to talk about it.
The graphic nature of the suicide scene, aired in April 2017, prompted a huge backlash at the time which saw Netflix include more viewer warnings and set up a dedicated website which included resources and contact information for support services.
Season 3 is currently in production and the new episodes as well as the recent studies will likely further the already heated debate around the divisive series.
13 Reasons Why season 3 is currently in production at Netflix.
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