Netflix has removed 13 Reasons Why‘s graphic suicide scene after consulting with mental health experts
Trigger warning: This post discusses depictions of suicide.
When Season 1 of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why debuted in 2017, many raised concerns about the series’ graphic depiction of Hannah Baker’s death by suicide. At the time, Jay Asher, who wrote the young adult novel that the show is based on, defended the decision, saying that Hannah’s death needed to be “as horrific as it actually is.” But two years after Season 1’s release, Netflix has edited Hannah’s death to be less graphic.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the scene from the Season 1 finale now cuts from Hannah looking at herself in the mirror to her mother discovering her body, meaning Hannah’s death now takes place entirely offscreen. Sources told THR that Netflix will also remove pirated versions of the scene on the internet.
In a statement to THR, Netflix explained that it had reached the decision with input from medical experts.
"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," the statement read. "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 show’s creator, Brian Yorkey, explained in a statement that the team’s intent in showing the suicide was to “tell the truth about the horror of such an act, and make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it.” But he added that after hearing concerns from Moutier and others, they changed their minds.
"No one scene is more important than the life of the show, and its message that we must take better care of each other," he wrote. "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."
A study published in April 2019 from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that the number of 10 to 17 year old boys dying by suicide increased 28.9% in April 2017, the month after 13 Reasons Why premiered. However, it’s not clear if this increase was caused by the show or what other factors were at play.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention supported Netflix’s decision in a tweet.
While we appreciate the ways that 13 Reasons Why has been able to start important conversations about mental health, we’re also glad that Netflix listened to advice from mental health experts. If you need help, never be afraid to reach out.
If you or anyone you know is dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can reach The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone.