WVLT: UT Expert Studies Impact of ’13 Reasons Why’ on Suicide

A recent Netflix hit “13 Reasons Why” has been deemed controversial and raised concerns for safety around the country.

WVLT Local 8 Now interviewed Caitlin Clevenger, a doctoral student in UT’s Department of Psychology, who believes the show could increase the risks of suicides.

Clevenger studies suicidal behavior among victims of violence as well as those who have been exposed to suicides. She studies how that exposure could increase the risks of suicide, whether suicides are presented in real-life situations or on a screen.

She said she doesn’t want viewers to suffer in silence, like the main character in the hit series.

Local 8 News reports that Clevenger also said she doesn’t like what the show represents, especially when creators show the main character taking her own life. She noted that the creators of the show wanted it to be entertaining, emotion evoking, and ultimately an art form that would compel people to be honest and real, while helping to de-stigmatize conversations about suicide and sexual assault.

“They pulled that off, and their intentions were good,” said Clevenger. “But there are some serious problems with the series.” 

Clevenger told Local 8 News the only positive takeaway from the show is the importance of giving viewers a chance to talk about suicide and how to prevent it.