Two years after its premiere, Netflix has removed the controversial graphic suicide scene from the first season of the popular young adult drama, "13 Reasons Why". The nearly three-minute-long scene, on the show's first season, depicts the female lead taking her own life. It has been re-edited on the advice of medical experts.
"We have heard from many young people that '13 Reasons Why' encouraged them to start conversations about difficult issues like depression and suicide, and seek help -- often for the first time. As we prepare to launch Season three later this summer, we have been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show," said a Netflix spokesperson.
"So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we decided, along with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers of '13 Reasons Why', to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her life from season one," added the spokesperson.
The graphic scene, which was a part of the final episode of season one, showed actress Katherine Langford's character Hannah slashing her wrist with a razor blade and bleeding to death in a bathtub. The scene received flak from people for its detailed depiction of the suicide, with many voicing concerns that it could lead to several youngsters copying the act. The altered scene has Katherine staring at her reflection in a mirror. The scene then cuts to her mother's reaction, when she finds Katherine's lifeless body.
The scene doesn't show how Katherine takes her life, but there's a shot in which her friend Clay Jensen, essayed by Dylan Minnette, mentions that she died alone. Show creator Brian Yorkey says they wanted to tell the truth "about the horror of such an act" with the original scene, but feels no one scene is more important than the life of the show.
"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," Yorkey said.
Explaining the idea behind the scene, he said: "Our creative intent in portraying the ugly and 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 get 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 to re-edit it. No scene is more important than the life of the show, and its message that we must take better care of each other."
Yorkey believes the edit "will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk, especially for vulnerable young viewers".
The move has drawn support from a number of suicide-related organisations and professionals, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Association of Suicidology, the Trevor Project, Crisis Text Line, Mental Health America, American School Counselors Association, Dr. Ellen Wartella of Northwestern University, Dr. Helen Hsu of Stanford University and Dr. Rebecca Hedrick of Cedars-Sinai, who 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 mental health 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 statement read.
"13 Reasons Why", based on the 2007 novel by Jay Asher, tells the story of a high school student who finds out why his friend killed herself through a box of cassette tapes she recorded before her death.