It was announced on Tuesday that the suicide scene in the first season finale of 13 Reason Why is going to be edited. It’s a huge mistake.
Netflix released a statement about the decision to make changes to one of the most gripping scenes in TV history.
“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,” the statement reads. “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 of 13 Reasons Why to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one.”
“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 bestselling 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,” Yorkey said in a statement. “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.”
Here’s an important part of that 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…”
That’s one (of about 13) of the reasons why it was important to show the frightening details of that suicide scene- to show viewers that suicide is harrowing. It’s scary. The idea of it happening to children is especially gutting.
But that’s just it. It does happen. And it’s happening every day.
The details should not be hidden, especially from a TV show. These details need to be exposed so we can understand the shocking nature of it. And the scene on the show really went out to spread awareness of what suicide really is.
Upon watching this scene, there is that horrible feeling of dread for what’s to come. Hannah is in her bathtub with tears falling from her eyes and slowly pulling out the razor blades knowing it all comes down to this. And we all know where this is going. After all, we knew from the get-go that Hannah kills herself. That was kind of the purpose of the show.
What makes this strange though is that behind the dread we might have felt a sense of hope that we were wrong about what happens. Maybe Hannah doesn’t die. Maybe her parents will make it home on time. Maybe one of her friends will come over and talk her out of it. Maybe Hannah will change her mind.
But that is just not how it works.
As much as we hope that some miracle will come along, that is not what the show is about. It’s about pain and tragedy. The show is telling its audience that as much as we might hope for something to change in the last second, that is not reality. These stories are devastating. But they must be told. We need to hear (and see) these stories for what they are.
13 Reasons Why is special because even though it’s a fictional series, it tells stories of controversial subjects that don’t get discussed enough for what they really are- not just about suicide, but also assault in various forms and the victims not obtaining their justice. It’s a rare situation for a TV show to display hefty topics that express reality because shows are usually in it solely for the entertainment. And editing the suicide scene is taking a step back for fictional stories to give factual details that the public can be so ignorant about.
Perhaps, the experts know what they’re talking about, but with no details on what they actually said, there’s not a lot of room to argue back. But the scene isn’t meant to glamorize suicide; it’s exactly the opposite. It’s dire. And sometimes the graphics are necessary so we understand what it really means.