International coalition of experts set out concerns and recommendations for 13 Reasons Why season 2 release
The hugely popular yet criticised 13 Reasons Why Netflix series has returned for a second season today.
By Mary Hayes
The first season, which racked up over 3.5 million social media impressions and 600,000 news reports sparked concern from many mental health professionals, including the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, Headspace, and RCPsych, for its “dramatic and detailed” (RCPsych) portrayal of self-harm/suicide, which research has shown can increase the likelihood of copycat behaviours.
Since the release of season 1, research from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows a significant rise in suicide-related searches after the show premiered, with 1 in 5 having accessed sites giving information on how to harm oneself or take one’s life. The research letter reports that overall, suicide queries were 19% higher in the 19 days following the series’ release, “reflecting 900,000 to 1.5 million more searches than expected.”
Our analyses suggest 13 Reasons Why, in its present form, has both increased suicidal awareness while unintentionally increasing suicidal ideation,” writes author of the research letter John W Ayers “The most rising queries focused on suicidal ideation. For instance, ‘how to commit suicide’, ‘commit suicide’ and ‘how to kill yourself’ were all significantly higher.”
Prof Ella Arensman, the Chief Scientist of the National Suicide Research Foundation, referenced the show’s effect in a plenary presentation on self-harm and suicide in young people at the CPsychI Annual Spring Conference 2018.
“We still don’t know the extent in the increase of copycat suicides globally,” said Prof Arensman, but added via the International Association for Suicide Prevention, that striking examples of clear copycat incidents were reported after the show’s release.
Very recently, via our National Self-Harm Registry, we have identified a peak of hospital-reported self-harm in young people in the fifth week after the launch of this programme,” she said.
As a result of the JAMA research findings and in preparation for the release of season 2 an international coalition of leading experts including American Psychiatric Association, International Association for Suicide Prevention, National Suicide Research Foundation, Ireland, have released concerns and recommendations to youth, parents, educators and clinicians/professionals.
The coalition released a statement urging adults to watch the series with their teens which will afford them opportunity to talk after each episode and monitor the impact the show has on the child. They have also released the 13 Reasons Why Toolkit, a website with information and resources for young people, parents, educators and clinicians/professionals to address the specific topics raised in each episode.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to ‘copycat’ suicides and with increasing suicide rates among young people in Ireland it is vital that the media is responsible in its presentation of suicide. As Pirkis and Blood state “it should be done responsibly, and balanced against the public’s ‘right to know’ in order to reduce the potential harm confirmed by the evidence.”
If you or someone you know is feeling distressed or needs help on any of these issues you can do the following:
Click here for more information on how to contact the Samaritans.
Click here for support services from Aware.
Click here for help from Jigsaw.
Click here for help from ReachOut.com
Click here for help and information from Pieta House.
Below is information from Samaritans on suicide and how to help prevent it.
Suicide is a very complex issue and often there isn’t one main reason why someone decides to take their own life. It can be the result of problems building up to the point where they can see no other way to cope with what they’re experiencing.
What are the signs of someone being at risk of suicide?
It’s not always possible to identify people who are going through emotional distress. However, some of the following signs may indicate someone is in poor emotional health:
- lacking energy or appearing particularly tired
- appearing more tearful
- not wanting to talk or be with people
- not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
- a change in routine, such as sleeping or eating more or less than normal
- using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
- finding it hard to cope with everyday things
- appearing restless and agitated
- not liking or taking care of themselves or feeling they don’t matter
- being un-typically clumsy or accident prone
- becoming withdrawn or losing touch with friends and family
Signs someone may need support
Sometimes people say things which might help you recognise they are struggling to cope:
- making leading statements, such as ‘You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through’ or ‘It’s like the whole world is against me’. People sometimes say these things in the hope you will pick up on them and ask what they mean, so that they can talk about it.
- negative statements about themselves, such as ‘Oh, no one loves me’, or ‘I’m a waste of space’, even if it sounds like they are joking.
How can I help someone who is feeling suicidal?
If someone is talking about suicide, always take it seriously.
You don’t have to be able to solve their problems but if you feel you can, offer support and encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling. Ask direct questions and don’t be afraid of frank discussions. Many people do want a chance to talk but don’t want to burden anyone around them.
Supporting someone in distress can be distressing in itself. If you’re helping someone who feels suicidal, make sure you take care of yourself as well. If you need to talk about how you are feeling, please feel free to call Samaritans whenever you need.
If you can, try to encourage them to contact us directly by calling Freephone 116 123 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org , as this will put them in more control of when and how they talk to us.
You can also ask Samaritans to contact them, they can tell the person that you asked Samaritans to get in touch, or keep you anonymous if you prefer.