Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” study found that viewers want more resources about teen suicide
Since the release of the controversial first season of 13 Reasons Why last year, Netflix has been eager to be a part of the conversation surrounding the difficult topics covered in the series. Based on the YA novel of the same name, 13 Reasons Why, follows the events leading to and following the suicide of a teen girl and touches on sexual assault, bullying, substance abuse, and depression.
Last year, the streaming platform commissioned a global study with researchers at Northwestern University about how parents and teens have responded to 13 Reasons Why, and the results were unveiled at a recent panel in New York City. Brian Wright, vice president of original series for Netflix, revealed that the streaming platform was inspired to commission the study due to the conversation and controversy surrounding the series.
He said Netflix wanted to better understand the conversation surrounding the show and how it served as starting point for parents and teens.
The study polled more than 5,000 parents, teens, and young adults from four major regions across the globe — the U.S., U.K., Brazil, and Australia/New Zealand — and found that, in general, the series served as an important reference point between parents and teens.
The series seemed to really resonate with teen and adolescent participants in general. 74-80% of teen and young adult viewers found that the series was beneficial, and an overwhelming majority (72-84%) of respondents said the series helped them realize that people in their lives may be suffering from depression without showing all the standard warning signs.
And notably, while 13 Reasons Why has been heavily criticized for including graphic scenes, more than half of the teens and young adult viewers found that the graphic and intense scenes were necessary to depict how painful suicide is.
But while the study found that the series was generally eye-opening for viewers and a helpful tool in starting a dialogue, the biggest critique participants had for 13 Reasons Why was that they wanted to see the series be a bigger part of the conversation by better highlighting resources.
Viewers of the series who saw the companion episode, Beyond the Reasons, thought it was beneficial — but thought that the series could do a better job in promoting resources and providing further support for viewers, including having the cast come out of character PSA-style, or having a professional provide resources at the end of a particularly intense episode and including a dialogue within the show to highlight resources.
While the study concluded after Season 2 wrapped — meaning, it’s unlikely the study will have an impact on the content of the series — Netflix is already working to provide better support for viewers. In addition to filming another installment of Beyond the Reasons for Season 2, the series now has a new warning video for the start of each season, featuring cast members from the show, and it’s continuing to update the show’s global support website. Wright said, “We really do wanna put our best foot forward in helping there really be a safe and vibrant and productive conversation in the world.”
We’re glad Netflix is being receptive to the criticism, and we’re looking forward to seeing 13 Reasons Why provide more resources for viewers going forward. The second season of the series is set to be released sometime this year.