More than two years after 13 Reasons Why debuted on Netflix, the streaming giant has chosen to edit a controversial suicide scene in the finale of Season 1. The decision, announced Tuesday, follows years of criticism and calls from groups to cancel the series. It also comes after several studies linked the Netflix Original to an increase in teen suicide rates following its debut back in March of 2017.
“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."
In its original form, the scene, which takes place halfway through the Season 1 finale, showed Katherine Langford’s Hannah Baker dying by suicide. The edited scene, now airing on the streaming giant, now shows Hannah looking at her reflection in a mirror before it goes to her parents’ reaction to her death.
“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 best-selling book did before us," showrunner Brian Yorkey added in his own 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,” he continued. “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."
In recent months, three studies have been published linking the Season 1 premiere to an increase in teen suicide rates as high as 30 percent in the months that followed. The studies only increased calls from parenting groups as well as Netflix subscribers for the streaming giant to remove the series from its platform.
In response to the criticism, Netflix had said in May that hey were “looking into the research” and that this “is a critically important topic and we have worked hard to ensure that we handle this sensitive issue responsibly.”
Prior to editing the scene, Netflix had added a suicide warning video ahead of each episode.