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A Review of the Werther Effect and Depictions of Suicide: 13 Reasons Why

  • Author(s): Schaffer, Eva Rose
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license
Abstract

The purpose of this review is to evaluate what influence Netflix’s show 13 Reasons Why will have on the public in accordance with the Werther effect. The Werther effect occurs when a publicized suicide is correlated with an increase in suicides (Philips, 1974). This effect is also referred to as suicide contagion and suicide suggestion. Research about the Werther effect can be generalized to gauge the possibility and severity of a contagion effect after the release of 13 Reasons Why. Additionally, censorship and trigger warnings were analyzed as possible mitigating factors when viewing graphic suicide-related content. The limited effects of censorship and the lack of research surrounding trigger warnings have serious implications when it comes to moderating the effects of suicide contagion. Furthermore, Ayers et al. (2017) found that Google searches for “How to kill yourself” significantly increased after the release of 13 Reasons Why. Thus, it is vital that research is done about suicide rates following the release of the show. The results indicate that television shows depicting suicide are associated with an increase in suicide and that warning labels increased desire to view violent content (Bushman, 2006; Schmidtke & Hafner,1988). This review is meant to contribute to the literature on suicide contagion and gauge the impact 13 Reasons Why will have on the public.

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