Study shows increase in youth suicide linked to popular TV Show
While mental health experts are working to reverse the trend and highlight effective prevention strategies, some ways of depicting suicide in mainstream culture are countering these efforts. a new study shows a strong association between a popular TV show and youth suicide rates.
Themes of suicide or self-harm are almost unavoidable in the media today. It is important to bring such issues to light.
Deylyn Medina, a teen advocate says "Suicide is everywhere in movies and TV shows."
While starting conversations about mental health is critical to suicide prevention, the messages adolescents get from shows like "13 Reasons Why" often have the opposite effect.
Dr. Jeff Bridge, Nationwide Children's Hospital says "The graphic portrayal of the main character's suicide death completely went against proper reporting guidelines for suicide."
In the show, a 17-year-old girl who ends her life is memorialized in a way that glamorizes suicide."
Jeff Bridge says "For vulnerable youth watching this show, they may see this as that could happen if they died by suicide, and so it's sending the wrong message."
And the consequences of that message can be tragic. Researchers examined suicide rates among different age groups and found there were about a hundred ninety-five more suicide deaths than expected among ten to 17-year-olds in the nine months following the show's release.
Jeff Bridge says "This should serve as a wake-up call to the media to you know, there are guidelines that exist for a reason, and it's important to follow those guidelines."
The study shows just how critical it is for the subject of suicide to be broached in a responsible and healthy way. And if you suspect your child is having suicidal thoughts, ask them about it directly."
Jeff Bridge says "The research has shown that asking about suicide will not put the thought in the child's head."
Deylyn Medina says "Just ask. Yeah, I would say it's a life-saving question."
The study found that suicide rates increased more among boys than girls. Experts say if your child watches "13 Reasons Why," it is best to watch it with them and talk through any tough scenes or episodes and don't hesitate to reach out for help.