The 13 Reasons Why phenomenon series, focused on teenage suicide, would increase this risk for psychologically frail teens.
The successful series 13 Reasons Why (produced by Selena Gomez) would increase the suicidal risk in psychologically frail teens, according to a new study. The two seasons, broadcast on Netflix, tell the reasons that pushed a high school girl to suicide. Moral harassment, rape, loneliness, family problems ... The scenario, very dark, and the scenes, sometimes shocking, worried many parents and health professionals, just like the educational circles.
Concerns among parents, caregivers and educators
"This series is a real phenomenon, especially among teenagers," says study director Victor Hong, chief of psychiatric emergency services at Michigan Medicine. "The focus on suicide has caused great concern among parents, carers and educators," he explains, in order to explain his prospective approach. According to him, the young patients of his service evoke more and more often the series during the psychological interviews.
87 young people, aged 13 to 17 years old and medically followed for depressive states, participated in the survey. Half had already watched at least one episode of the Netflix series. Of the 43 who looked at it fully, 21 said it increased their suicidal thoughts (51%). "This study indicates that we should be concerned about the impact of 13 Reasons Why about impressionable and vulnerable youth, "says Victor Hong, noting that the influence of the series on the mood of non-depressed youth has not been evaluated here.
The majority of young people surveyed watched the series alone
The study also found that the majority of youth surveyed viewed the series alone and were more likely to discuss their reactions with peers (81%) than with a parent (35%). Very few parents had watched the series themselves, and some did not know that their child had watched it. Teachers and school counselors were also not the preferred interlocutors of the adolescents surveyed. These results contrast with those of a previous report commissioned by Netflix, according to which 71% of the youth had already talked about this series to a parent.
Among the young viewers who felt increased suicidal cravings with the show, most identified themselves with the main character, Hannah Baker, and therefore his desire to end life. Parents whose children are psychologically vulnerable should therefore, according to the researchers, pay particular attention to what their children are watching, and try to talk to them as much as possible.
20% of adolescents experience a depressive episode
It is estimated that 20% of adolescents experience a depressive episode. Depression is the most common psychiatric illness and affects all ages. In France, it is estimated that almost one in five people have suffered or will suffer from depression during their lifetime.
The prevalence of depression in France has increased by 1.8 points between 2010 and 2017, according to a recent report from Public Health France, especially among women (+3 points), 35-44 years (+4 points) , unemployed (+5 points) and low-income people (+3 points).