A new study in the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports youth suicides among kids ages 10-17 increased to a 19-year high in the month after Netflix released the show “13 Reasons Why” which depicts a teen girl taking her life.
The U.S. youth suicide rate was 29% higher among children ages 10-17 than the previous year.
However, the study can’t prove the Netflix show was the cause of the teen suicides, but if we are honest with ourselves, we all know this show probably didn’t help either.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say that movies are “art” and it’s “fiction” and therefore the excessive violence, sexual content and overall vulgarity of what passes for modern entertainment has no influence on the behavior of the viewers.
This is just a lie. Images are powerful. If visuals weren’t then why are so many addicted to pornography? Images are incredibly powerful and can have a profound effect on certain viewers. Of course, not all that watch a violent film or an overly sexual television program will commit crimes or regrettable acts. However, many in our society will be influenced by these programs to make possible life-changing mistakes.
While no study can definitively prove a violent movie caused someone to commit horrible acts or a TV show about teen suicide caused young adults to commit suicide, for Hollywood celebrities to say violent content doesn’t have the potential to influence viewers is disingenuous.
If Hollywood wants to really do something about guns and violence, instead of protesting the Second Amendment and calling for more gun control, maybe instead they should first look inward at their entertainment industry and push for less violent content in movies, music, video games and on television.
The world is full of darkness. We need more light and positivity our world and in our entertainment. I encourage and challenge Hollywood to produce more uplifting stories including shows aimed at teenagers. Young adults could use a positive and encouraging message in our society.
Chad Whittle, Ph.D. holds a doctoral degree in mass communication and is the host of “A Whittle Bit of Commentary.” Subscribe today to his podcast on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Google Play. Read his daily column at ChadWhittle.com and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.