Mental health experts are concerned about the hit Netflix show ’13 Reasons Why’


Netflix’s hit show ‘13 Reasons Why’ has a negative impact on a significant proportion of suicidal teens, according to new research from mental health experts.

Researchers from Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan in the US asked suicidal adolescents whether the show had contributed to suicide-related symptoms.

Of the 87 youths who participated in the survey between 2017 and 2018, half had watched at least one episode of the show, mostly teens ages 13 to 17. Among the 43 who had watched it, about half (21) said it heightened their suicide risk.

If you’re not familiar with the show, it follows a 17-year-old student, who, before her death, recorded cassettes that detail 13 reasons why she took her own life.

13 Reasons Why has been a hit for Netflix (Picture: Netflix)

‘This show has been a real phenomenon, especially among teenagers,’ says lead author Victor Hong, M.D., medical director of psychiatric emergency services at Michigan Medicine. ‘Its depiction of teen suicide has raised great concern among parents, health providers and educators.’

‘Our study doesn’t confirm that the show is increasing suicide risk, but it confirms that we should definitely be concerned about its impact on impressionable and vulnerable youth

‘Few believe this type of media exposure will take kids who are not depressed and make them suicidal. The concern is about how this may negatively impact youth who are already teetering on the edge.’

According to Hong, the idea for the study, which has been published in the journal Psychiatric Services, came about from stories shared among colleagues at different children’s hospitals. He said that more and more staff were hearing about this show from teenagers.

Researchers are concerned about the effects of the show (Picture: Netflix)

A second season of 13 Reasons Why, which debuted in May, opens with a disclaimer urging young viewers to watch the show with a trusted adult — and the importance of seeking help. But very few parents in the researcher’s sample had watched it themselves.

‘The data from our sample of teens demonstrated that kids who were at high risk of suicide did not reach out to adults,’ Hong said.

‘They mostly watched the show alone or talked to friends, but they weren’t talking to parents, teachers or school counselors.’

Researchers developed a 44-item questionnaire to assess several aspects of youths’ interactions with ’13 Reasons Why,’ using caution to avoid advertising the series to those who were not already aware of it. Teens unfamiliar with the show weren’t asked additional questions.

More research is needed to find out how media content can influence mental health (Image: Getty)

The experts say further research is needed to accurately gauge how media content that focuses on youth suicide can influence the mental health and suicide risk of its viewers.

‘Our findings support the need for tailored prevention programming for vulnerable youths and education and training for their parents,’ said senior author of the study Cheryl King, a child and adolescent psychologist at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

‘Parents whose kids may be vulnerable or at a high risk for suicide should be even more diligent about what their kids watch and if they are being exposed to content that could trigger them.’





READ SOURCE

ALSO READ   Fact check: Are your chances of getting the flu after a vaccination only decreased by 1 to 2 per cent?

Leave a Reply