Two years after its premiere, Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” no longer shows Hannah’s graphic suicide scene, the streaming platform announced Monday.
Netflix said in its statement that the decision came after talking with medical experts who advised against showing the scene.
An update on 13 Reasons Why
— Netflix US (@netflix) July 16, 2019
It is dangerous to show suicide methods in media, according to suicide reporting guidelines. Showing a method can elicit copycat suicides.
“Risk of additional suicides increases when the story explicitly describes the suicide method, uses dramatic/graphic headlines or images, and repeated/extensive coverage sensationalizes or glamorizes a death,” reportingonsuicide.org states.
I watched “13 Reasons Why” when it premiered in March 2017. At the time, I was severely depressed and not quite a year post-suicide attempt.
Most episodes weren’t “triggering” for me, meaning it didn’t add to my suicidal thoughts or down mood.
When I made it to the last episode, I had no idea the graphic scene of Hannah dying by suicide was included. I knew she would die by suicide, but that did not prepare me for the unnecessary graphic details included in the scene.
Many people have said that the graphic scene shows the reality of suicide and could make people think twice about attempting suicide. Maybe this is true for some, but let me explain what that scene meant for someone like me.
It was senior year spring break in college when I decided to binge watch the show. Everyone else was either home or on community service trips. I was severely depressed, so I stayed in my campus apartment alone.
I was already struggling with suicidal thoughts. When the scene came on, I couldn’t look away. I was enthralled. Had my brain not been so sick, I probably would have used better judgement and turned it off, knowing the impact the scene could have on my wellbeing.
But my brain was sick — and a part of me wanted to watch it. I feel gross saying this, but when you’re suicidal, the thoughts feed on themselves. All you want to do is die, so why wouldn’t your mind want to watch someone take their life?
This is why scenes like this are dangerous. A suicidal brain, at least mine, wanted more ammunition, more ways to die. Rumination can be a big part of suicidal thoughts. You think over and over again of how you could die and why you should die. Scenes play out in your mind.
That scene became another way I could kill myself. I was more suicidal because of “13 Reasons Why.”
I never wanted to be suicidal. I didn’t want to make it worse, but I didn’t have the capacity to take care of myself at the time. So, when people say, “You should just turn the TV off, or don’t watch it,” they don’t understand that some of us are fighting a battle between doing what’s right and what our suicidal minds compel us to do.
Now, a whole two years after watching the show, I still play that scene in my head when I have suicidal thoughts. I don’t want my brain to play the scene on a loop, but once something is in your head it’s hard to ignore. My thoughts are distressing, and I certainly don’t need a TV show adding to that.
I wish I could go back and take that piece of ammunition away from my mind, but I can’t. It’ll always be a part of my suicidal brain’s arsenal.
Some say the scene’s removal is too little too late. I agree that it’s too late for many, but it’s better than never. Other people in my situation won’t see it, and that could mean the difference between one person’s suicide and one person’s continued fight to live.
If you need support, you can reach the suicide prevention lifeline at 1–800–273–8255.