How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.
After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.
"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," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.
The original, graphic three-minute scene in the season one finale shows star Katherine Langford's character, Hannah, sitting in the bathtub, a tear streaming down her face as she slits her wrist with a razor blade. She then lets out a scream as she bleeds to death before being discovered by her mother.
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Showrunner Brian Yorkey said the scene was shown in graphic detail to deter teen suicide. "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," he told The Hollywood Reporter.
There has been a nearly 30 percent increase in teen suicidesince the show premiered in 2017. It's hard to say if the show is directly responsible for the increase, or if the teens who have committed suicide even watched the show. However, Netflix isn't taking any chances.
"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 said. "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."
There are some people who worry the removal of the gritty reality of suicide might have the opposite effect. "The argument '13 Reasons Why'glorifies suicide is actually made infinitely stronger by removing the suicide itself," Myles McNutt, Associate Professor of Media Studies at the University of Wisconsin, posted on Twitter. "Without showing Hannah's shock and pain, the 'suicide as revenge' plan goes too smoothly. I understand the potential harm of 'how to' in showing the suicide, but the way it's depicted is horrifying, and the story is built in a way that you need that horror."
The removal of the controversial scenes comes after Netflix's decision to reduce the amount of smokingin their shows. Both Netflix shows and teenagers have seen a rise in smoking in recent years. By curbing the amount of smoking in shows, Netflix will be setting a better example.
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