Content warning: This story contains references to suicide.
Netflix has edited out the graphic suicide scene from the first season of 13 Reasons Why, more than two years after the show debuted on the service.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix made the decision to alter the controversial scene ahead of the young adult drama's upcoming third season.
"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.
"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."
The three-minute long scene, which is no longer available to view, originally depicted the show's protagonist, Hannah (Katherine Langford), ending her life in graphic detail midway through the season one finale.
The new edit now depicts Hannah staring at herself in the bathroom mirror, before the show cuts to her parents discovering her dead body in the bathroom.
The Hollywood Reporter says insider knowledge on the viewing patterns of 13 Reasons Why informed the service that each season invites new viewers to the show, who would in turn have been exposed to the unedited scene.
"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," Yorkey said in a 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. 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."
The edit has gained support from various mental health expert groups, including the American Association of Suicidology.
13 Reasons Why, and the scene in question, faced criticism for its hyper-realist depiction of suicide upon its release in 2017. New Statesman writer Neha Shah wrote that the suicide scene "feels uncomfortably close to a how-to guide to suicide ... The show is right to be trying to provide teenagers with a lesson in compassion and sensitivity, but watching Hannah Baker cut her wrists in High Definition isn't doing anything for youth suicide prevention."
The Office of Film and Literature Classification in New Zealand gave the show an R18 rating in response to its graphic content, saying in a statement: "The suicide method is clearly shown – contravening established health guidelines and creating the potential for copycat behaviour.
"The real links between mental health and suicide are not discussed at all in the series. The choice of the lead character to kill herself is also portrayed quite fatalistically. In real life, most of those with suicidal thoughts recover and do not go on to end their lives."
13 Reasons Why's third season is expected later in 2019.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
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