Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 January 2020

Two years later: Netflix edits out controversial suicide scene in '13 Reasons Why'

On the advice of medical experts, the streaming giant has decided to edit the scene where Hannah Baker takes her own life in season one

Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker in '13 Reasons Why'. Courtesy Netflix
Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker in '13 Reasons Why'. Courtesy Netflix

When the Selena Gomez-backed TV show 13 Reasons Why first aired on March 31, 2017, a spike in suicides was seen among people aged 10 to 17. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that the rate went up by nearly a third in April 2017, suggesting the show was a factor in this rise.

The series, which is based on the novel by Jay Asher, tells the story of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a depressed teen who takes her own life and sends a fellow high school student a tape explaining why she had done it – and who she blames for it.

It was controversial when it came out, as many people criticised it for glamourising suicide.

"It's a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly," a Netflix spokesperson said at the time.

Katherine Langford in 13 Reasons Why. Beth Dubber/Netflix
Katherine Langford plays Hannah Baker, a depressed high school student, in '13 Reasons Why'. Courtesy Netflix

Now, two years since the show first came out, it seems the streaming giant is paying attention to the possible effects this show is having on troubled teens, announcing that it will edit a graphic and controversial scene that shows Hannah committing suicide.

"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 this week.

"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 original nearly three-minute-long scene showed how Hannah killed herself. It is no longer available on Netflix. The new scene now features Baker looking at herself in the mirror before moving to her parents' reaction and the immediate aftermath of her suicide.

Sources have said Netflix will also be monitoring and issuing take-downs for any pirated clips that feature the unedited version, reports Hollywood Reporter.

The show creator Yorkey issued a statement on the matter, saying he hopes the story "would help young viewers feel seen and heard, and encourage empathy in all who viewed it, much as the best-selling book did before us".

He said that no one scene is more important than the show itself "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 people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers."

Yorkey, among others, have refuted in the past studies that show any links the series has with an increase in suicide.

Updated: July 16, 2019 09:36 AM