Netflix has edited the controversial suicide scene from the first season of 13 Reasons Why, two years after the show originally premiered.
The graphic scene first aired during the season one finale and showed Hannah (Katherine Langford) cutting her wrists with a razor blade – prompting mental health activists to voice concerns that the scene could lead to copycat suicides among teenagers.
The edited scene, which comes ahead of the show’s third season, now shows Hannah staring at her own reflection in the mirror, before showing her parents’ reaction to her death. There is no depiction of her suicide.
Announcing the edit, Netflix said in a statement: “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.”
An update on 13 Reasons Why
— 13 Reasons Why (@13ReasonsWhy) July 16, 2019
Showrunner Brian Yorkey also said he hopes that the edit “will help the show do the most good for the most people”.
Yorkey 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 bestselling 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.”
Praising the decision, Samaritans told NME that showrunners “should always seek advice from experts on the portrayal of suicide.”
“We welcome Netflix’s decision to edit out the suicide scene from the first season of 13 Reasons Why. We raised our concerns over the content and have been working with the Netflix team here in the UK to provide advice on the safe portrayal of suicide, including viewer support and signposting to helplines such as Samaritans,” said Lorna Fraser, Executive Lead Samaritans’ Media Advisory Service,
“While covering difficult topics in drama can help to increase understanding and encourage people to seek help, it’s important this is done in a responsible way, due to the evidenced risks associated with covering this topic in the media. Programme makers should always seek advice from experts on the portrayal of suicide, to ensure any risk to vulnerable viewers is minimised. Samaritans publishes Media Guidelines for Reporting Suicide and has been working with UK media for over two decades, providing advice on how to cover this topic safely.
“We would encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out for help. People can contact Samaritans for free from any phone at any time of the day or night on 116 123, or email email@example.com or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch of Samaritans.”
The third season is expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
For help and advice on mental health:
- ‘Am I depressed?‘ – Help and advice on mental health and what to do next
- Help Musicians UK – Around the clock mental health support and advice for musicians
- Music Support Org – Help and support for musicians struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or mental health issues
- YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
- CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably for young men
- Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
- The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day