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Netflix Cuts Controversial Suicide Scene From ’13 Reasons Why’ Two Years Later

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13 Reasons Why

More than two years since its release, Netflix announced in July 2018 it is editing out the controversial suicide scene from the teenage drama 13 Reasons Why. While this is a relief for many viewers, especially medical experts who opposed the scene, others comment the decision was made a little too late to help.

An Instant Sensation

13 Reasons Why has been one of Netflix’s most popular original series since its release in March 2017. Based off of Jay Asher’s bestselling novel of the same title, the series focuses on the aftermath of high school student Hannah Baker’s suicide. Before her suicide, Hannah [portrayed by Katherine Langford] left behind cassette tapes to her classmates, narrating the reasons behind her decision to end her life.

The show, as well as Langford’s performance, was immediately praised by critics for its unique, captivating approach in dealing with young adult suicide and trauma. However, not everyone was pleased with the show’s depiction of suicide, with many individuals claiming the show’s first season “glorified suicide,” especially for teenagers.

In fact, according to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the rate of suicide among U.S. boys ages 10 to 17 increased by 29-percent in just one month after the show premiered. Study author Jeff Bridge commented, “Youth may be particularly susceptible to suicide contagion.” This contagion is often fostered by stories, including 13 Reasons Why, that sensationalize simplistic explanations of suicidal behavior. The series presents suicide as a means of accomplishing a goal, as seen through the eyes of Hannah Baker.

Warning Us About More Graphic Content

Netflix realizes the show’s first season may have been too graphic or emotional for some viewers. That’s why when the show’s second season premiered in 2018, Netflix included a warning video before the first episode about the content viewers could expect. Individual episodes that could be graphic or considered violent also included trigger warnings.

When the season premiered, a viewer tweeted a viral post listing the timestamps for the most distressing, graphic scenes, including a school shooting and a sexual assault. If viewers didn’t want to watch the scenes, they could know in advance and skip to the next segment of the episode.

While this was considered a smart decision at the time, it wasn’t enough for many fans. Netflix needed to remove the suicide scene from the show’s first season, so in July 2019, ahead of the show’s third season, Netflix confirmed the scene portraying Hannah’s suicide from the first season will be removed from the streaming service—effective immediately.

Netflix released a statement: “As we prepare to launch Season 3 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 1.”

A Little Too Late

Following the announcement, many viewers thought the decision had come a little too late. Hannah Baker’s suicide scene had been available for viewing for over two years. One Twitter user (@sadieannerue) said, “You should have done this right after the first season aired and thousands of viewers and professionals started to voice their concerns but better late than never.”

Another Twitter user (@drugproblem) commented, “This is the stupidest and most delayed reaction ever – not only is that scene two years old, but it now lives forever on the Internet and has been meme’d to death. Congrats on achieving… absolutely nothing.”

Some Twitter users said the Netflix series should be canceled for including the sensitive, graphic content in the first place. The show’s second season included other graphic scenes that fans say are uncomfortable and traumatizing to watch. Hopefully, Netflix and the creators of 13 Reasons Why will listen to viewers before the next season is released. The show has learned the hard way that sometimes, there are certain issues that should never be displayed on the screen.

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