LOS ANGELES — Netflix has edited the controversial suicide scene from “13 Reasons Why” two years after the show originally premiered.
“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 in a statement Monday. “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 scene now depicts actress Katherine Langford staring at her reflection in the mirror before cutting to her parents’ reaction in a later scene. There is no longer any depiction of the character’s suicide.
The graphic scene first aired during the season one finale and showed Langford cutting her wrist with a razor blade before bleeding out in a bathtub. Soon after premiering, the show faced some backlash regarding its depiction of suicide, with a number of activists and health professionals voicing concerns that the scene may have contributed to copycat suicides among teens.
“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,” showrunner Brian Yorkey said in a statement. “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 move has also drawn support from a number of suicide-related organizations and industry professionals, including the American Association of Suicidology, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, Stanford’s Dr. Helen Hsu, Mental Health America, Cedars-Sinai’s Dr. Rebecca Hedrick and The Trevor Project, who have released a joint statement regarding the new edit: “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.”
The streaming service originally responded to the controversy by adding a new advisory video in front of the show’s second season episodes. In the clip stars Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Justin Prentice and Alisha Boe explain to viewers how they can get help if they are affected by anything they see played out on the television screen.
However, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings later went on to defend the show, saying, “It is controversial, but nobody has to watch it.”
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.