Adolescent Suicide Portrayal: What Effect? Physical Heal

Tim Dupell
3 min readApr 5


Teenagers with a background of mental illness are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and actions. As a result, it’s crucial to depict suicide and other related behaviours accurately.

Even though 13 Reasons Why is a very well-liked television program that has drawn notice worldwide, some people have expressed worries about the program and how it might affect teenagers. These issues will be addressed in this piece, along with some information on what the series does and don’t do for teenagers.

Teenagers are a susceptible and naive group that frequently responds to what they see in the media. This includes imitative behaviours, which can cause young people emotional and physical issues.

Studies have shown that depictions of suicide can harm young viewers, especially if they are at a high risk of developing suicidal thoughts and behaviours. This is referred to as the “Werther effect,” but there may also be beneficial effects, such as greater knowledge of suicide, a decline in stigma, and help-seeking behaviour.

Responsible media portrayals can promote asking for assistance, bust myths, and bolster hope, all of which help save lives.

This is particularly true regarding the representation of suicide in moving-image media like movies and television programs. It is crucial to consider the subtleties of these media and how they affect the risk factors for suicide. It is also important to consider the possible pitfalls of controlling or restricting such material.

How suicide is portrayed in the media humiliates teenagers with mental health problems. It pushes them to commit suicide rather than get assistance.

One illustration of this is the blue whale suicide game, which incites adolescent suicide or self-harm. Over 130 deaths have been connected to these games globally. Media producers must abide by the rules to prevent normalizing this conduct.

Suicidal thoughts and self-harm can be negatively impacted by suicidal portrayals on television, in movies, or online. Additionally, it may foster misconceptions and myths in the general public about suicide.

When preparing content for the screen, following a few straightforward rules is the best way to reduce the effect. Avoiding showing or describing the actual suicide act, or demonstrating that help is accessible, are the most obvious and effective strategies.

If used responsibly, the media can be a useful instrument for preventing suicide. It can promote hope, urge seeking assistance, and debunk myths.

The best way to achieve this is to steer clear of depictions of practices or methods that could be harmful and instead feature characters who can deal with suicidal feelings and refrain from actually trying to commit suicide.

Media portrayals of self-harm and the glamorization of suicide may harm teenagers and other vulnerable people. Through repeated exposure and modelling, especially on social media platforms, such depictions will likely normalize harmful behaviours, which can hurt vulnerable populations.

According to several studies, an individual’s age, gender, or prior experiences with suicide can all have a different effect on how media material affects suicidal ideation and attempts. (Gould). Nevertheless, a lot of portrayals of suicide can have positive effects, like raising awareness of the issue, lowering stigma, and encouraging people who are at risk for suicidal thoughts to seek assistance.

Teens adore the TV program 13 Reasons Why. It depicts several problems that affect adolescents frequently, including depression, anxiety, and self-harm.

The programme is very funny as well. The actors mock themselves and their difficulties. This is a very typical behaviour among teenagers and might be harmful.

The way the 13 Reasons Why television series depicts suicide is among its most unsettling elements. Suicide is for losers, a character declares after cutting herself in one episode.

Adolescents may frequently experience suicidal ideation or attempts, so handling this problem is critical. It’s crucial to refrain from stigmatizing death. Gatekeeping is considered to be hampered by stigma, which may also deter attempts to assist someone who is suicidally predisposed.

The depiction of suicide in movies, television shows, or other media can have imitation effects, add to public misconceptions about suicide, foster urban legends, and impede effective suicide prevention.

Adolescents who commit suicide suffer especially negative effects. They are less likely than adults to seek mental health care or therapy when their thoughts are severe, and they are more likely to be influenced by the media.

Studies have shown that exposure to fictional suicide tales can result in imitative behaviours, or “suicide contagion,” which significantly impacts suicide rates.

More study is needed to determine how media affects adolescent suicide rates. Considering how social media can expose children to inappropriate or harmful material is crucial.



Tim Dupell

Tim Dupell has devoted his professional life to providing mental health professionals with the benefit of his knowledge, connections, and enthusiasm.