Did 13 Reasons Why Spark a Suicide Contagion Effect?


There is a debate going on whether the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why should have depicted suicide the way it did.

The study, while troubling, is not entirely surprising. In May, I examined how 13 Reasons Why managed to break virtually every rule that exists when it comes to portraying suicide, featuring a graphic, prolonged scene of the main character’s death in the final episode and glamorizing it as a force for positive change in her community. One of the biggest concerns among psychologists and educators was that the show might spark a contagion effect, where increased coverage of suicide in the media leads to a related increase in suicide attempts. Netflix doesn’t release data regarding its viewing figures, but the wide discussion of the show on social media (it became the most-tweeted about show of 2017) implies that a significant number of people watched it, particularly teenagers. The rush to produce a follow-up season (currently being filmed and scheduled for a 2018 release) indicates the show has been a big hit for the streaming service.

The complete article

Sophie Gilbert — The Atlantic

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4 thoughts on “Did 13 Reasons Why Spark a Suicide Contagion Effect?

  1. There’s even a ‘conspiracy theory’ that 13RW was made to put the thought of suicide in adolescents. While I don’t believe this to be true, it certainly did so. I think the series was an unrealistic portrayal of someone at the urge of committing suicide. On the side it also glamorized suicide.

  2. YES! From the view of psychology it is very unlikely that someone who is depressed makes up such elaborate plans. However, she was neither portrayed as depressed nor suicidal as she had LOTS of energy. She was the revenge-hero making everyone feel worse by killing herself (admittettly some of the characters in 13RW ‘deserved’ to feel bad). I thought the whole set up was so sick and unbelieveable.

  3. It would be interesting to see the statistics. History has shown that the contagion effect is real. Suicide is undoubtably something that needs to be talked about, but in a more responsible way. The show portrays Hannah as gaining something from her suicide (revenge) . . . however, it does not realistically show that a dead person can gain nothing. Since breaking rules abounded, perhaps showing her grave and focusing a bit more on the finality of death would have been appropriate.

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