There are abundant reasons why Netflix should never have given the green-light to 13 Reasons Why — the high-school drama about a teenaged girl who is raped, then “slut-shamed” by her peers at school and commits suicide — but a new study is adding an urgent and compelling reason to cancel it immediately.
Before the first season dropped, suicide prevention experts advised Netflix against airing the series because of concerns about “suicide contagion,” but Netflix ignored their concerns and released the series, anyhow. Within a few weeks, there were news reports linking teen suicides and attempted suicides to the series, as well as reports that Google searches on how to commit suicide spiked 26 percent after the first season came online.
In a desperate attempt at damage control, Netflix commissioned its own academic research to show that the series had a positive effect on teen viewers, encouraging teens to talk to their parents about the show and the issues the show raised and encouraging teens to apologize to someone for how they’d treated them.
Netflix, it seems, is happy to allow that 13 Reasons influences teen behavior – but only insofar as it fits their narrative.
In fact, when asked about the possibility that teens might be encouraged to harm themselves after watching, Netflix CEO Reid Hastings said, “13 Reasons Why has been enormously popular and successful. It’s engaging content. It is controversial, but nobody has to watch it.”
But now there’s an even more compelling reason for Netflix to pull 13 Reasons Why.
A new study finds that suicidal teenagers claimed 13 Reasons Why raised their risk of taking their own lives. The study’s authors said the findings “suggest a particular vulnerability to the show’s themes among youths at risk of suicide…”
There is abundant evidence that Netflix is fully aware of the harm and potential for harm this series presents for impressionable young viewers. It is long past time for Netflix to pull the plug on production for Season 3 of 13 Reasons, and to immediately pull seasons 1 and 2 from their streaming platform.