KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Teenage suicides have spiked since Netflix released “13 Reasons Why,” according to a new study.
Experts on both sides of the state line say parents need to know how to help their kids.
It’s been two years since the release of the show, and a new study from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry claims there was a nearly 30% increase in suicides among kids 10 to 17 years old in the month following the release of the show.
“Frankly, I wasn’t surprised. I think we saw the ramifications directly and immediately after it aired,” said Tim DeWeese, the director of Johnson County Mental Health.
DeWeese said when the show came out they felt the need to act and worked with superintendents and students across Johnson County to bring awareness to the struggles teens face with depression, anxiety and suicide through their #ZeroReasonsWhy campaign.
“The Zero Reasons Why campaign was directly a result of the 13 Reasons Why,” DeWeese said. “We wanted to send the message that there is absolutely no reason that choosing to kill yourself is a viable option. That we all have reasons to live, and it’s important for us to be here the next day and to be here tomorrow.”
In Missouri, the Park Hill School District said they sent parents information soon after the release of the show, and it’s on their radar.
“I think this has been a topic all year for us in Park Hill,” said Stephanie Amaya, the district’s director of professional studies. “We are committed to addressing mental health in a very positive and proactive way. All year we’ve had opportunities to engage with our parents whether it be webinars or through mental health training as well as our staff.”
The district holds meetings to discuss resources for parents and families on how to keep students healthy and safe. They offer webinars, and a variety of resources to help parents identify possible needs for their children.
Netflix responded to the release of the study by citing another by the University of Pennsylvania that claims if students watch the first season in it’s entirety they were less likely to be at risk.
“This is a critically important topic, and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly,” Netflix said in a statement.
“There has to be a message of hope,” DeWeese said. “All of us, all of us experience difficult times. All of us have failures in our life. All of us have points that we feel hopeless, but at the end of the day there is a new day, and that we can overcome all of those things.”
If you or someone you know need help, there are resources for you. We urge you to get help immediately.
Johnson County has a 24-hour crisis line at 913-268-0156, and you can find more information on FOX4’s You Matter page.
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