LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A sharp rise in the number of teen suicides over the past half-century may be linked to what kids are watching at their local movie theater, according to a new study.

The analysis conducted by Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center said big-screen depictions of explicit and graphic suicides tripled between 1950 and 2006 — the very same time frame in which real-life teen suicides tripled as well.

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Researcher Patrick Jamieson told KNX 1070 the ratings took into consideration the explicitness of suicide as one key factor.

“We rated suicidal behavior content in the movie each time it happened on a scale of zero to four,” said Jamieson. “Basically, the more of the behavior that’s shown, the higher the number is that it got rated at.”

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As the explicitness rating of movie suicides increased, the number of real life teen suicides started to rise during approximately the same time frame.

Jamieson said the findings underscore an audience component that should concern any parent: he says the Motion Picture Association of America ratings don’t distinguish between the most explicit suicides.

“You could say, ‘OK, my kid’s 14 years old, it must be OK to see a PG-13 movie, but it turns out there’s no difference between the most explicit suicides between PG-13 and R [-rated movies], which tells me as a researcher that the system is not doing it’s job,” said Jamieson.

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The Motion Picture Association did not return requests for comment on the study.