Two years after releasing the controversial 13 Reasons Why, Netflix has altered one of the most debated scenes in the series. The first season of 13 Reasons Why explores the lives of teens before and after the suicide of a character named Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford).
Netflix decided ahead of the season three release to change the pivotal scene of Hannah’s suicide so it would be less graphic. In a statement Netflix said, “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. 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 graphically showed how Hannah committed suicide. In the new version, Hannah can no longer be seen cutting herself. The updated scene, that is now on Netflix, shows Hannah looking into the mirror contemplating her life and then transitions to Hannah’s parents finding her body in the bathtub. The hope is that the scene retains the strong emotional impact without footage that could be considered triggering or influential to young viewers.The change was made now knowing that the new season may attract new viewers to the show. Netflix decided it was best to limit the exposure to the scene, hence why Netflix also plans to issue take-downs for pirated clips of the unedited scene.
Brian Yorkey, the showrunner of 13 Reasons Why, said, “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. 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. 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 decision to edit the scene has been supported by multiple organizations, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Association of Suicidology, the American School Counselor Association, and the Trevor Project. The organizations put together a joint statement, “We support the decision to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from 13 Reasons Why. There has been much debate about the series in the medical 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.”