"13 Reasons Why" is an American TV series that was released on Netflix in March 2017. It follows the story of teen girl, Hannah Baker, and her fellow student Clay Jensen. The story is told as a dual narrative, switching between Hannah and Clay's perspectives. It tells of the aftermath of Hannah's suicide. Two weeks of Hannah tragically commits suicide, a box appears on Clay's porch. In the box are 13 tapes, each a reason why Hannah chose to kill herself.

This series shook the showbiz world and social media. Everyone had heard of Hannah Baker and her tragic story.

Increased Google suicide searches

From as early as the show's release date, suicide prevention experts have been warning about the possible negative effects of such a show. They warned that a popular TV show, such as "13 Reasons Why", with such a strong focus on suicide, could in fact lead to an increase in the rate of suicides. Furthermore, they suspected that it would also lead to several copycat cases where individuals mimicked the methods used by Hannah Baker.

A recent study revealed that the experts were unfortunately correct. Within 19 days of the show's release, suicide queries on Google had spiked by 20%. This means that there were at least 900 000 more queries about suicide than usual.

A terrifying figure!

Jama Internal Medicine was the organization that conducted the study and much of it was conducted by monitoring Google Trends. In the weeks following the release of "13 Reasons Why", there was a significant increase in the number of people asking questions such as, "How do I kill myself?" and "Teen suicide".

Increasing suicide awareness

One positive outcome from this show is that it has, in a sense, increased suicide awareness and made many more people aware about the issue. However, critics argue that this show simply idealized suicide, making it seem more acceptable. In the final scene, where Hannah is eventually seen committing suicide, she is almost depicted as a hero.

In the weeks following her death, the community unites in a way that it has never done before. Plots like this convince teenagers that suicide is a heroic act. That it is your life sacrificed for the greater good. It doesn't serve to convince the many already troubled teens of their worth.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, speak to someone. Call the following numbers:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US): 1-800-273-8255
  • Papyrus: 0800 068 41 41