13 Reasons Why suicide

It’s been more than two years since the first season of 13 Reasons Why debuted on Netflix, but the streaming service has decided to significantly trim down its graphic suicide scene from the season one finale. That a character commits suicide is not a spoiler, by the way – it’s the premise of the series, and something that has generated controversy from the start. But with a third season about to arrive, Netflix has listened to the advice of a medical expert and altered the scene. Read the streamer’s official statement below.

Here’s the statement Netflix released last night about the scene in question:

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 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.

I started watching this show when it aired but gave up a few episodes in. Thankfully, THR has a description of how the original scene looked:

It depicted breakout star Katherine Langford’s Hannah assessing her life in the mirror before she is depicted sitting in a bathtub, tear on her cheek, taking a razor blade to her left wrist and piercing the skin. The camera then holds on the character as she shrieks in pain as blood gushes from an increasingly long cut that extends nearly up to her elbow. Hannah is then seen gasping for air as her breathing ultimately slows and bloodstained water tips out of the tub. Not long after, Hannah’s mother (Kate Walsh) discovers her daughter’s lifeless body in the blood-filled tub.

The outlet reports that Netflix is going to monitor video sites and issue take-down notices for any pirated videos that depict the original scene. As TV critic Myles McNutt pointed out on Twitter last night, is Paramount Television also going to be recalling its DVD versions of season one?

The re-edited version of the scene now cuts from Hannah looking at herself in the mirror to her parents’ reaction. Several prominent doctors and suicide prevention organizations have praised Netflix’s decision to alter the scene, despite showrunner Brian Yorkey’s original intention being not to glamorize suicide for the show’s teenaged target demographic but instead depict it as a horrific, painful thing. “As difficult as it is to watch, it should be difficult to watch,” he said previously. “If we make it easy to watch, then we’re selling goods that we didn’t want to sell.”

The scene had been controversial from the start, with several groups concerned that its graphic depiction of suicide would lead to copycat cases in particularly vulnerable teen viewers. Subsequently, Netflix added content warnings before specific episodes and beefed up additional resources like 13ReasonsWhy.info in the hopes that would offset any potential negative effects. The thinking with the timing of this edit is that because the third season is about to drop, new and repeat viewers who are drawn to the show now won’t encounter that original sequence in full.

Putting aside whether or not you think this is the correct move for Netflix and the showrunner, it does make us think once again about the permanence of streaming content. Anything on any streaming service could be edited or straight up removed any time, for any reason. While physical media has fallen out of favor over the past few years, it’s still the only way to guarantee that you can own a movie or TV show in its unedited form in perpetuity.

If you’re interested, you can head over to THR to read Yorkey’s full statement about the new edit.

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