Netflix Removes Controversial ‘13 Reasons Why’ Suicide Scene
While 13 Reasons Why has been one of Netflix’s most popular teen shows since its debut in the spring of 2017, it has also been one of the streaming service’s most controversial for its discussion — and sometimes graphic depiction — of teen suicide and other serious mental health issues. Netflix has previously responded to the negative reaction by adding warnings to some episodes, but today on Twitter they announced their most drastic change: “Re-editing” the Season 1 finale to remove the suicide of Hannah, the lead character played by Katherine Langford.
Previously, the scene showed Hannah’s death in extensive detail. The new version streaming on Netflix cuts from the moments before she takes her life to her parents’ reaction to her suicide.
Here’s the show’s announcement on Twitter:
Show creator Brian Yorkey also provided this statement on the news:
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 it encouraged empathy in all who viewed it, much as the bestselling book did before us. 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. But as we ready to launch Season 3, 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.
Yorkey also stated that he believes “this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers.”
Before the controversial episode first debuted in 2017, Yorkey told The Hollywood Reporter that the scene was deliberately made long and painful. “We felt like it would be too easy for us to make [Hannah’s] suicide look glamorous and peaceful,” he said at the time. “It would be easy to make her look beautiful and tragic in a cinematic way. It also would have been too easy to see her thinking about it and let the camera drift off. We wanted to confront the fact that suicide is messy, ugly and it's incredibly painful.”
Many mental health professionals did not agree, however, as noted in Yorkey’s new statement. THR also notes that while the move is being made ahead of the show’s third season, the decision was not made because the new episodes contain another teen suicide.
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