’13 reasons why ‘and where the research is, how it has influenced viewers
The fourth and final season of Netflix 13 reasons why will air this month and is now the third most popular streaming program on Netflix. And with its popularity it has been criticized that its subjects are too dark and scary for teenagers. In fact, actress Kirstie Alley says you shouldn’t let your teens see it, but “it’s good for adults”.
When the show began in 2017, there was significant public discussion and news suggesting parents shouldn’t watch their teens talk about suicide, bullying, and sexual assault of teenagers, sometimes graphically out of fear that the show would commit suicide glorify and could be a potential trigger for self-harm in adolescent viewers. Major media outlets like CNN, Washington Post and CBS News criticized the show, and some school districts advised parents not to let their children see their children.
Dr. Christine Moutier of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, who argued that the graphical suicide presented in season one was just too vivid and could be harmful to adolescent viewers. Also in 2018, the National Institute of Mental Health released a press release on research that suggested an increase in teenage suicides a few months after the show was released. Netflix ultimately agreed with this assessment and removed the graphic suicide scene shown in season one when they began at the beginning of season three.
The academic research on research was equally contradictory 13 reasons why. Perhaps most devastating was the study by JA Bridge and colleagues, published last February in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which reported an increase in adolescent suicide rates in the nine months following the program’s publication in 2017 29% noted, and especially for boys. But this research was also put to the test.
In another analysis of the bridge data, Dan Romer found that the post-show suicide rate surge in April was no greater than it was in the month prior to the show’s debut and was more likely a reflection of the national surge in youth suicide rates between 2016 and 2017 and before the show aired. What is clear is that the series over several seasons (and Netflix has announced that this, its fourth season, will be its last) is a rather unsettling view of contemporary youth that many young people can relate to.
In late fall 2017, we and my colleagues Alexis Lauricella and Drew Cingel conducted an online survey of 5400 people in five countries (US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil) to determine the attitudes and reported behavior of viewers after exposure to 13 reasons why. Our sample was evenly split between viewers and non-viewers and included adolescents (ages 13-17), young adults (ages 18-22), and parents of adolescents. We have the knowledge and interest of viewers in the show, their assessment of the “difficult topics” suicide, depression, bullying and sexual assault, their attitude and behavioral reactions to the show as well as various measurements of their psychosocial characteristics, such as social anxiety, self-esteem and Loneliness and mental health proxies, such as social anxiety, happiness, loneliness, and resilience.
Teenagers and young adults found around the world 13 reasons why relatable, realistic and identified with the characters in the series. Viewers largely understood the narrative, as well as the broader lessons that could be learned from the show, so that people can appear “OK” even when struggling with their mental health.
The majority of adolescent and young adult viewers further stated that exposure to the show helped them better understand difficult topics such as depression, suicide, bullying, and sexual assault, and the majority of viewers said after information on each of these difficult ones Look for issues that are needed to address this question. And the answers varied depending on the individual characteristics of the viewers, and in particular viewers with high social anxiety were more likely than viewers with low social anxiety than viewers with less social anxiety to report seeking more information about the topics of the show.
Two of the most important findings are that viewers showed empathic behavior after watching the show, and when parents watched the show (either with or without their teenagers) it was an opportunity for the parents and the teen to talk about difficult topics the youth life and school experiences. Parents, adolescents, and young adults also said they would like more access to mental health resources than they did on season one shows.
The fourth season of the program is led by Yalda Uhls, director of the Center on Scholars and Storytellers at UCLA. Obviously, this program hit a nerve with the teenage viewers. Do you want to see the program? My best advice to parents is to take your son or daughter out of the program and heed the recommendations on how to get your child for help if you feel they need it.
The interesting question is whether in the current fear of Covid-19 and now the civil demonstrations against racism and police activities across the country, whether viewers will react differently to the broadcast. This, along with so much, is unclear today and not easy to predict.