Exploring how Thirteen Reasons Why and other portrayals of suicide in the media affect young adults

Liz Meszaros, MDLinx

American Psychiatric Association 2018 Annual Meeting

New York, New York, United States | May 05-09, 2018


After the airing of Thirteen Reasons Why, presentations for suicide in emergency departments around the country increased, according to anecdotal evidence, said Nicole Guanci, MD, assistant director, Residency Training Program, Department of Psychiatry, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, here at the American Psychiatric Association 2018 Annual Meeting.

“From what we know about young people, romanticizing suicide has a contagious effect,” she told MDLinx. “And we see increased rates of mimicking copycat suicide structures and maybe even committed suicide after something is publicly announced or portrayed in the media if it has certain characteristics that makes it more enticing and high risk for copycats."

Health care providers, parents, and clinicians should be aware of what the media is presenting, so that they are better able to advise patients and are more alert for such copycatting in teens and young adults. Awareness and discussion may be important when dealing with teenagers, and just discussing and broaching these issues may help.

“Suicide is something we are always assessing for with any patient, with any patient interview. It’s a question that is always part of our interview,” she concluded.