Suicide-related searches on Google have risen significantly since the release of Netflix show “13 Reasons Why”, says a study. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the paper studied Google trends data from the show’s release date on March 31 through April 18.
Researchers said they used the specific dates so that search results wouldn’t be contaminated with queries relating to suicide of former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez. They also removed from their search queries on any terms that included “Suicide Squad”, according to Canadian news platform globalnews.ca.
The researches have found that the phrase “how to commit suicide” went up 26 per cent and “commit suicide” rose by 18 per cent. In addition, “how to kill yourself” increased by nine per cent, reports people.com.
However, there was also a jump search of terms which indicated an increase in suicide awareness.
Terms like “suicide hotline number” went up by 21 per cent, while “teen suicide” rose by 34 per cent.
“The data shows that ’13 Reasons Why’ isn’t fit for public health. Even though it’s causing somewhat of an increase in suicide awareness and people seeking information on how to prevent suicide, we saw an increase in searches on how to commit suicide, literally, how to have a painless suicide,” John Ayers, the study’s lead author said.
“Our study allowed us to see what people are thinking and when they’re thinking it. The act of searching itself is moving that person one step closer to a suicide act. Searches often foreshadow offline behaviour,” Ayers added.
In response to the study, Netflix said: “We always believed this show would increase discussion around this tough subject matter. This is an interesting quasi experimental study that confirms this. We are looking forward to more research and taking everything we learn to heart as we prepare for season 2.”