From 13 Reasons Why to Suicide Watch: Reddit Discussions about the Controversial Netflix Series
From 13 Reasons Why to Suicide Watch:
Reddit Discussions about the Controversial Netflix Series
Hua Wang1(firstname.lastname@example.org), Haoran Chu1, and Anatoliy Gruzd2
There were 108 unique users who
posted on both subreddits.
Among these overlapped users, the
most active user posted more than
200 times on r/suicidewatch.
On March 31, 2017, Netflix premiered an original series
called “13 Reasons Why” based on the 2007 young adult
novel and New York Times best seller of the same title by
Reddit Online Discussions
• Reddit is a semi-anonymous online community
allowing in-depth and interactive discussions on a wide
range of topics without word limit.
• Subreddit r/13ReasonsWhy is an online forum on
Reddit designated to the show.
• Subreddit r/SuicideWatch is an online forum on Reddit
with peer support for people with suicidal thoughts.
• We aimed to examine the characteristics of mental
health discussions on both subreddits and the
connections between the two.
• All public posts in 2017 (Jan 1 – Dec 31) on
r/13ReasonsWhy and r/SuicideWatch were retrieved
using the Reddit Collector app developed by the Social
Media Lab at Ryerson University.
• Data analysis was completed in MS Excel and SPSS.
• Visualizations were generated using Tableau Pro.
is close to 5 : 1
• A total of 22,300 initial threads and subsequent replies
were posted on r/13ReasonsWhy.
• Teen suicide remains a difficult and sensitive topic for
public discussions. The controversy surrounding the
Netflix series 13 Reasons Why did stimulate heated
conversations among the viewers as well as concerning
parents and educators.
• Featuring mental health resources on popular social
media does provide various audience members a platform
to connect with others and potentially seek help in a semi-
anonymous online environment but this is only a start.
• A combination of social network analysis and content
analysis (both computer-aided and human coded) is
currently underway to examine who said what and when
in a more systematic and nuanced manner.
• Our research team is conducting several other studies in
parallel to better understand the program content, media
coverage, as well as audience response on- and off-line.
Suicide Bullying Gun Sexual
From 13ReasonsWhy to Suicide Watch
• r/13ReasonsWhy has a PSA on its front page directing
those in need of help to r/SuicideWatch and other
resources related to mental health.
Responses to 13 Reasons Why
• The show immediately received criticism by
mainstream media for glamorizing suicide despite the
producers’ intention to break the taboo and start a
public discourse on teen suicide.
• Many people were very vocal with their opinions about
the Netflix series on social media such as Reddit,
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
• This study is part of a larger research project
examining the controversy of 13 Reasons Why.
21,718 unique users
• Almost the great majority of these r/13ReasonsWhy posts
were about the storylines, characters, and actors, there
was an alarming amount of posts about the topic of
suicide as compared to other issues portrayed in the show
such as bullying, gun, sexual assault, and alcohol.
• Only a small number of users overlapped between
r/13ReasonsWhy and r/SuicideWatch although they were
rather active on the discussion forum.
• r/13ReasonsWhy served as a bridge to encourage
vulnerable viewers to connect with peer support on
r/SuicideWatch. Users who overlapped between the two
subreddits used the online forums to describe their
personal experiences, express deep emotions, and offer
support to others in need of help.