Nav: Home

Internet searches for suicide after '13 Reasons Why'

July 31, 2017

Internet searches about suicide were higher than expected after the release of the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" about the suicide of a fictional teen that graphically shows the suicide in its finale, according to a new research letter published by JAMA Internal Medicine.

The series has sparked debate about its public health implications.

John W. Ayers, Ph.D., M.A., of San Diego State University, California, and coauthors compared internet search volumes after the 2017 premiere with expected search volumes if the series had never been released (March 31 through April 18). The authors used a cut-off date that preceded former football player Aaron Hernandez's suicide on April 19 so their estimates would not be contaminated.

The research letter reports:
  • All Google searches that included the term "suicide" were cumulatively 19 percent higher for the 19 days following the series release, reflecting 900,000 to 1.5 million more searches than expected.

  • For 12 of the 19 days studied, all suicide searches were greater than expected, ranging from 15 percent higher on April 15 to 44 percent higher on April 18.

  • The authors examined 20 common queries to describe how suicide related search content also changed and 17 of the 20 related queries were higher than expected, with more searches focused on suicidal ideation, such as "how to commit suicide," "commit suicide," and "how to kill yourself."

  • Searches for suicide hotlines were higher, as were searches indicative of public health awareness, but less so than suicidal ideation.

"'13 Reasons Why' elevated suicide awareness but it is concerning that searches indicating suicidal ideation also rose. It is unclear whether any query preceded an actual suicide attempt," the article concludes, noting that further surveillance will help to clarify the findings.
-end-
For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.3333)

Editor's Note: Please see the article for conflict of interesting and funding/support disclosures. For more information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Suicide Articles:

Does religion protect against suicide?
Religious participation is linked to lower suicide rates in many parts of the world, including the United States and Russia, but does not protect against the risk of suicide in sections of Europe and Asia, finds new research by a Michigan State University scholar.
Children at increased risk of suicide
Teenagers injured through drinking, drug abuse or self-harming have a five-fold increased risk of dying from suicide in the next decade.
Young cancer survivors have twice the risk of suicide
Survivors of cancer diagnosed before the age of 25 had a more than two-fold increased risk of suicide compared to their non-cancer peers.
Suicide prevention: Reacting to the tell-tale signs
Can search engines save lives? Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich researchers are working on an approach which would enable search engines to more effectively identify users who are at risk of suicide and provide them with information on where to find help.
Canada needs a national suicide prevention strategy
Canada needs a national suicide prevention strategy, and it should be included in the 2017 federal budget, argues an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
More Suicide News and Suicide Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...