The nearly three-minute scene showed actress Katherine Langford’s character Hannah take a razor blade to one of her wrists while sitting in a bathtub. Her mother, played by Kate Walsh, discovers Hannah’s lifeless body in the blood-filled water. The graphic scene prompted complaints, leading Netflix to edit it two years later.
“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 Tuesday. “As we prepare to launch Season 3 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 1.”
Added producer-writer, Brian Yorkey on behalf of the show’s producing team: “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 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. 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.”
Several organizations and members of the medical community also voiced support for the decision, including the American Association of Suicidology, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American School Counselor Association, Dr. Helen Hsu of Stanford, Mental Health America, Dr. Rebecca Hedrick of Cedars-Sinai, and The Trevor Project.
“We support the decision to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from 13 Reasons Why,” they said. “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.”
13 Reasons Why deals with teen suicide, bullying, drunk driving and rape in graphic detail, and premiered in 2017.
As Deadline reported in April, a study showed teen suicide rates spiked after the series premiered.
Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that the month following the March 2017 debut of the series, suicides increased by 28% among boys ages 10-17, the highest rate of the five-year study period in the age group. The nine months after the show’s release saw an extra 195 deaths by suicide in this age group, more than expected given historical trends.