Netflix has removed a suicide scene from its popular show “13 Reasons Why,” more than two years after it was first shown on the streaming platform. The scene shows the teen drama’s main character, Hannah Baker, taking her own life in the Season 1 finale — and it was met with strong backlash from suicide prevention advocates over its graphic nature. Researchers also found a troubling trend in the month after the show premiered.
Ahead of the Season 3 premiere, slated for later this summer, Netflix said in a statement Tuesday that the company wanted to be “mindful” about the ongoing debate around the show.
“We’ve heard from many young people that ’13 Reasons Why’ encouraged them to start conversations about difficult issues like depression and suicide and get help-often for the first time. So on the advice of medical experts… we’ve decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers of ’13 Reasons Why’ to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from Season 1.”
The controversial scene in the episode “Tape 7, Side A” showed Baker, played by actress Katherine Langford, contemplating her life in front of a mirror before sitting in a bathtub, where she takes a razor and cuts her skin. In the moments after, her breathing slows down and the tub is filled with blood. Her mother then walks in and finds her daughter dead.
In the updated version on Netflix, Baker looks at herself in the mirror before the scene cuts away to show her parents finding her lifeless body and embracing each other.
Brian Yorkey, the show’s creator, explained his reasoning in creating the graphic scene, and why he ultimately decided along with Netflix to edit it out after hearing concerns from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“Our creative intent in portraying the ugly, painful reality of suicide in such graphic detail in Season 1 was to tell the truth about the horror of such an act, and make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it,” Yorkey said. “No one scene is more important than the life of the show, and its message that we must take better care of each other.”
Several mental health organizations, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, supported Netflix’s decision in a joint statement, saying: “There has been much debate about the series in the mental health community. But this positive change will ensure that ’13 Reasons Why’ continues to encourage open conversation about mental health and suicide prevention – while also mitigating the risk for the most vulnerable teenage viewers.”
Research from earlier this year found a sharp increase in suicide rates among children and teens in the month after the show’s release in March 2017. While the researchers said the study cannot prove that the television show is what caused the rise in suicide, they said the association is troubling.
For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.