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: "'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.
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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

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