“13 Reasons Why” Tied to Rise in Suicide Searches Online
August 21, 2017
New research suggests that Internet searches for suicide-related terms increased following the release of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Researchers examined Google data from the three-week period after the series premiere and found that while searches related to suicide prevention increased, searches indicating suicidal ideation rose more steeply. For example, queries for the search terms “suicide prevention” and “suicide hotline number” were 20 percent higher than expected for that time period, and queries for “how to commit suicide” were just over 25 percent higher. The authors cautioned that their findings could not determine whether the searches were connected to suicidal behavior. According to Madelyn Gould, professor of epidemiology in psychiatry at Columbia University, more research is needed to understand how the series has influenced suicide risk in the population. “These analyses, by Ayers and his team, seem to indicate that suicide awareness was heightened and I think that that is a relief, but unfortunately at what price was that awareness raised?” she said.