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13 Reasons Why revises Hannah Baker suicide scene
via Netflix

Netflix edits 13 Reasons Why graphic suicide scene two years later

The controversial season one finale scene saw protagonist Hannah Baker die by suicide

When 13 Reasons Why first debuted on Netflix, it was an immediate runaway success –  it had a diverse cast with multi-dimensional roles, and focused hard on mental health and bullying, while playing with the conventions of prestige and teen TV, and subverted the mysterious dead girl trope. Season one combated widespread criticism though for one of its most disturbing scenes, the finale peaking with the onscreen suicide of central character Hannah Baker. 

Though the series aired for the first time just over two years ago, Netflix announced on Tuesday that it would be editing the suicide scene, per the advice of mental health experts.

In its statement, Netflix said: “We’ve heard from many young people that 13 Reasons Why encouraged them to start conversations about difficult issues like depression and suicide.”

Claiming that the company had been “mindful about the ongoing debate around the show”, it added that it had “decided with the creator Brian Yorkey and the producers of 13 Reasons Why, to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life”.

The scene of Hannah’s death by cutting her wrists has now been removed, and instead a sequence shows her getting into the bath, before cutting to her parents discovering her dead body. Previously, Netflix displayed a content warning, stating that the episode did contain “scenes that some viewers may find disturbing (and) may not be suitable for younger audiences, including graphic depictions of violence and suicide.” 

The show is based on a book of the same name by Jay Asher, following the story of Hannah (played by Katherine Langford), who leaves behind a series of 13 tapes that detail why she took her life, and those who contributed to the decision.

The edit has already been welcomed by mental health and suicide prevention groups. “While covering difficult topics in drama can help to increase understanding and encourage people to seek help, it's important this is done in a responsible way," said Lorna Fraser from Samaritans. The show was heavily criticised previously for allegedly glamourising suicide, especially when one man reportedly recreated the shows death, leaving behind a series of audio recordings for the police. More still, researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that suicides increased by 28 per cent among boys aged 10-17 following the debut of the show in March 2017, and saw 195 suicides in the same age group in the following nine months, though this correlation was disputed.

When defending the original edit, Netflix stated that the show “encouraged (young people) to start conversations about difficult times like depression and suicide and get help.” In light of such research being published, they now believe that the alternative edit will “help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers.”