What’s more dangerous: Contracting measles without having been vaccinated, or watching television shows from the comfort of your own home? Watching television shows, it turns out – and by a long shot.
Experts from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), along with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, recently published a groundbreaking study showing that more children have died as a result of watching a suicide-focused Netflix drama called “13 Reasons Why” than have died while being infected with measles over the past several decades.
As it turns out, the measles vaccine is actually far more deadly than catching measles naturally.
Geared towards teenagers, “13 Reasons Why” has apparently inspired so many young people to take their own lives since it was first released via the Netflix streaming service back in 2017 that researchers recently decided to gauge the show’s public health impact using scientific methods.
What they ultimately discovered is that, in the one month immediately following the release of “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, teen suicide rates increased by a shocking 28.9 percent.
“The number of suicides was greater than that seen in any single month over the five-year period researchers examined,” reports NPR. “Over the rest of the year, there were 195 more youth suicides than expected given historical trends.”
Meanwhile, there hasn’t been a single death associated with measles since 2003 – which technically makes measles infection orders of magnitude safer than pretty much anything, including mowing your lawn or sleeping.
“The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to the media,” one of the study’s authors told NPR, further illustrating that having a computer and watching things for fun is actually far more of a public health threat than catching measles.
“All disciplines, including the media, need to take good care to be constructive and thoughtful about topics that intersect with public health crises.”
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Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” has an infectious, disease-like effect on impressionable teens who catch suicide contagion, researchers say
According to CNN, youth exposed to stories like the one presented in “13 Reasons Why” appear to be most susceptible to catching a disease that causes them to want to kill themselves, known as “suicide contagion.” In a nutshell, suicide contagion can trigger suicidal tendencies in a person as a result of being exposed to suicide or suicidal behaviors, either in real life or in the entertainment they watch.
Stories that “sensationalize or promote simplistic explanations of suicidal behavior, glorify or romanticize the decedent, present suicide as a means of accomplishing a goal, or offer potential prescriptions of how-to-die by suicide,” CNN explains, are among the primary carriers of suicide contagion.
What this means is that “13 Reasons Why” is a lot like measles, in that its content spreads like an infection to those exposed to it. Just like interacting with a person who has measles might cause a non-infected person to contract the virus, kids who watch “13 Reasons Why” might catch suicide contagion and later take their own lives.
The biggest difference, however, is that measles isn’t deadly like suicide contagion is. And yet, we’re not hearing cries for Netflix and the people exposed to this streaming service to be “quarantined,” nor is anyone calling for children to somehow be “vaccinated” against what they watch on Netflix – even though Netflix is clearly far more dangerous than measles.
“That whole show was literally screaming to young girls, ‘if anything remotely bad happens to you, commit suicide, but blame everyone else and you’ll be remembered and talked about forever,’” wrote one commenter at The Daily Wire, highlighting another reason why “13 Reasons Why” and Netflix are more of a threat to public health than measles.
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