NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A popular show streaming on Netflix reveals a character’s despair brought on by betrayal and bullying, culminating with suicide.
Experts are now asking if a spike in impressionable young people taking their own lives cause-and-effect reaction, reports CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Liz Osowiecki was a victim of harassment, bullying, and sexual assault.
“It can bring you to a place of despair where you can’t look in the mirror anymore so the only other option is to not be alive,” she said.
But unlike the Netflix character in “13 Reasons Why,” Ososiecki reached out for help, survived, and is now educating others in Nassau County schools.
“Obviously I don’t think the show’s intention was to have this happen,” said Keith Scott of The Safe Center. “But what is the message we see there? We see the message this person was bullied, this person was troubled, her way out was to take her life.”
At the Safe Center of Long Island, mental health counseling continues and reverberations are felt from show.
Just published data in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reveals that in the month of the show’s debut – March 2017 – there was a 28.9 percent increase in suicide among people ages 10 to 17.
The rest of the year saw 195 more youth suicides than expected given historical trends. Adolescents are struggling with home life, tests, fitting in and looking toward their futures.
“Add on a show that glorifies suicide as a way out and you have a perfect storm,” said Dr. Jeffrey Reyolds of the Family and Children’s Association.
There is no proof of causation, but Netflix has now added a viewer warning message from the cast before the first episode and publicizing its website which offers resources for people contemplating taking their own lives.
“We’ve just seen this study and are looking into the research, which conflicts with last week’s study from the University of Pennsylvania,” said a spokesperson for Netflix. “This is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.”
Netflix also has launched a website at 13reasonswhy.info to offer support resources for people in crisis.
“It wasn’t until she took her own life that people started realizing their own wrongs,” said Osowiecki. “Their behaviors did impact and cause a lot of the despair she was struggling with, and that’s the message we share.”
For more resources, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or see their website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.