A graphic suicide scene from the season finale of Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” has now been edited in response to accusations that the show glorifies suicide.
According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR), Netflix released a statement on Tuesday that tacitly defended the company’s original decision to keep the scene while acknowledging it may have contributed to unhealthy ideas about suicide among teens.
“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,” Netflix said on Tuesday. “As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we’ve been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we’ve decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one.”
The original three-minute scene featured the character Hannah (actress Katherine Langford) taking a razor blade to her left wrist while sitting in the bathtub as blood gushes from a cut extending all the way up to her elbow. It didn’t stop there.
“Hannah is then seen gasping for air as her breathing ultimately slows and bloodstained water tips out of the tub,” reports THR. “Not long after, Hannah’s mother (Kate Walsh) discovers her daughter’s lifeless body in the blood-filled tub. Male lead Dylan Minnette provides voiceover during the entire scene as he tells the school’s guidance counselor (played by Derek Luke) precisely what happened to Hannah.”
The new scene will simply feature Hannah assessing her life in the mirror and then cutting to her mother’s reaction to the suicide. Netflix insiders told THR that the streaming platform will be working to monitor any pirated clips that feature the original scene.
Brian Yorkey, the show’s creator, said in a statement on Tuesday that he initially intended “13 Reasons Why” to spark empathy in those who viewed it.
“It was our hope, in making ’13 Reasons Why’ into a television show, to tell a story that would help young viewers feel seen and heard and encourage empathy in all who viewed it, much as the best-selling book did before us,” Yorkey said. “Our creative intent in portraying the ugly, painful reality of suicide in such graphic detail in season one was to tell the truth about the horror of such an act and make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it.”
“But as we ready to launch season three, we have heard concerns about the scene from Dr. Christine Moutier at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and others, and have agreed with Netflix to re-edit it,” Yorkey continued. “No one scene is more important than the life of the show and its message that we must take better care of each other. We believe this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers.”
The move to edit the scene comes upon the heels of Netflix recently announcing it would be limiting depictions of on-screen smoking in its original shows and movies. This past April, NPR reported on a study that showed “13 Reasons Why” correlated with a spike in teen suicide rates.
“In the month following the show’s debut in March 2017, there was a 28.9% increase in suicide among Americans ages 10-17, said the study, published Monday in the ‘Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,'” reported NPR. “The number of suicides was greater than that seen in any single month over the five-year period researchers examined. Over the rest of the year, there were 195 more youth suicides than expected given historical trends.”
In June of last year, as Netflix renewed “13 Reasons Why” for its third season, company CEO Reed Hastings dismissed critics by saying “nobody has to watch it.”
“’13 Reasons Why’ has been enormously popular and successful. It’s engaging content,” Hastings said during the company’s annual shareholder meeting. “It is controversial. But nobody has to watch it.”