Netflix announced Monday that it edited out a controversial suicide scene from the first season finale of “13 Reasons Why,” more than two years after it first was released.
“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 obtained by ABC News.
“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 … we’ve decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers of ’13 Reasons Why’ to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one,” the statement continued.
Yorkey also issued a statement in which he agreed with the decision while explaining the scene’s original purpose.
“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 wrote.
“No one scene is more important than the life of the show, and its message that we must take better care of each other,” Yorkey added.
“13 Reasons Why” is based on a 2007 young adult novel of the same name. It tells the story of 17-year-old Hannah Baker, who commits suicide and leaves behind audio recordings for 13 people she says were part of why she took her life.
The nearly three-minute-long scene in which Hannah graphically takes her life is the one Netflix has edited out of the series.
Netflix initially responded to backlash over the scene in May 2017 by strengthening and increasing its warnings to viewers about the show’s content. Although the streamer said it consulted with mental health professionals while making the series, some mental health advocates expressed concern that it could lead to a “copycat” effect of suicide.
Singer Selena Gomez, an executive producer on the show, had said that her intent for “13 Reasons Why” was to help teens who were struggling.
“We wanted to do in a way where it was honest and we wanted to make something that can hopefully help people because suicide should never ever be an option,” Gomez said during the show’s first season.
But some school districts, such as the Montclair Public Schools District in New Jersey and the Montgomery County Public Schools District in Maryland, sent letters to parents warning them about some of the graphic content in the show.
Dr. Christine Moutier, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in New York City, told ABC News in 2017 that she was allowing her then-16-year-old daughter to watch “13 Reasons Why,” but that she was watching each episode with her and allowing time for conversation before watching the next episode.
“I’m watching it, just slowly and measured and making a point to talk about it and consider it between my daughter and myself,” Moutier said. “I’m having a hard time getting my head around watching it without that process.”
The AFSP had noticed an increase in parents and educators seeking information on how to help children process “13 Reasons Why” at the time, according to Moutier, who it was “commendable” that some school officials were offering support to parents around the show’s content.
“It’s kind of a judgment call whether to draw more attention to anything that is potentially risky to students,” Moutier said. “But in this case, because it’s so widely out there, I think the proactive approach with the parent community is really appropriate and commendable.”
Netflix later created a companion website for the series, 13ReasonsWhy.info, that provides suicide prevention resources and information on crisis hotlines for over 35 countries.
Ahead of the second season, which premiered in 2018, the network also began advising viewers before each episode that “this series might not be right for you” for those struggling with these issues related to self-harm.
“I think it’s going to be a different conversation this time around,” Moutier said about the second season in 2018. “[There will be] themes of recovery and healing and support.”
If you or someone you know needs to talk, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If a person says they are considering suicide:
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