July 16, 2019

Netflix Has Edited '13 Reasons Why' to Remove Graphic Scene

13 Reasons Why - Hannah and Clay
Two years after the show's premiere, Netflix has chosen to remove a graphic depiction of suicide.

For those unfamiliar, 13 Reasons Why focuses on Clay (Dylan Minnette), a teenager trying to figure out why his friend Hannah (Katherine Langford) ended her own life. She leaves tapes behind providing thirteen reasons for her choice.

The scene in question took place during the season one finale. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the scene was nearly three minutes long and portrayed Hannah's last moments after cutting her wrist in graphic detail.

Psychologists were concerned about young viewers watching the show without guidance or supervision, and about the potential for the scene to romanticize or sensationalize suicide. Ron Avi Astor told NPR that normalizing the behavior could make it "contagious" among vulnerable teens.

13 Reasons Why
Credit: Netflix
When the scene was originally released and concerns were raised, Netflix added a warning to the beginning of the episode.

Now the edited scene depicts Hannah looking into her bathroom mirror, and her parents subsequently discovering her body.

Last night, Netflix and the show creator Brian Yorkey released statements about the edit via the 13 Reasons Why Twitter account. Yorkey wrote:

"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. 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. 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."

Back in 2017, one of the show's writers, Nic Sheff, claimed the depiction was necessary because it was so graphic and disturbing. He wrote in his Vanity Fair column:

"When it comes to suicide, I believe the message should be exactly the same. Facing these issues head-on—talking about them, being open about them—will always be our best defense against losing another life."

13 Reasons Why - Hannah
Credit: Netflix

The takeaway for aspiring filmmakers and showrunners should be mainly that, if you're considering including a scene of graphic violence or disturbing content in your own project, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of doing so. Have compelling reasons to support your decision beyond mere shock factor.

Also, as we can see from this situation, you may need to be willing to make concessions to your project even years later.     

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with a counselor online at their website.

Your Comment

4 Comments

Netflix is such a stupid company... That scene was amazing. Hard to watch but realistic. That was THE scene saying "here's what happens when you try to kill yourself". And they cut it away now???

July 16, 2019 at 5:09PM

2
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Vincent Galiano
Filmmaker / Screenwriter / Photographer
474

Why? Have you personally ever encountered something like that? Or know someone who has suicidal tendencies. I certainly have and it's awful. It was awful for me to find someone who has taken their life. It's something I will never be able to erase from my memory. So it bothers me when TV and movies show suicides because I can tell most of them don't get it.

A scene like that could actually encourage someone to take their life. People who suffer from Anxiety and Depression are not right in their mental health.

So showing something graphic in nature does not always mean it's artistic or helpful.

July 16, 2019 at 5:34PM, Edited July 16, 5:35PM

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Joseph Lindsay
Director of Photography/Motion Designer
255

Cowards.

July 17, 2019 at 1:52AM

0
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Ed Wright
Director, DP, Writer
419

I won't say that they are cowards.
There are still lots of topics that are taboo and might be considered as potential triggers for the audience. I totally agree that the creative team should consider all the pro's and con's before including such content in a tv show, especially if it's rated 16+. So, well, it was unexpected, but it was the right decision made by Netflix.

July 17, 2019 at 4:57AM

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Joseph Walker
writer
100