How 13 Reasons Why Built That Heartbreaking Suicide Scene
The story behind Hannah Baker's final moments, as told by the Netflix hit's cast and crew.
Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why begins at the end. Hannah Baker—smart, sarcastic, soulful Hannah Baker—is dead; nothing can bring her back. But even though Hannah’s beyond-the-grave explanation of why she killed herself forms the backbone of this series, there’s no way to prepare for actually seeing the act itself: in a harrowing three-minute sequence in the middle of Season 1’s finale, our heroine calmly runs a bath, slits her wrists, and bleeds out. Soon afterward, her horrified parents discover her lifeless body.
Kyle Patrick Alvarez directed the fifth and sixth episodes of 13 Reasons Why—but before he could return to tackle the finale, he had to do some additional research. “We would always say, there’s a thousand ways to shoot this scene wrong, and like one or two ways to shoot it right,” he explains.
Alvarez spent ages watching “every suicide scene I could get my hands on,” especially ones in media aimed at young people, like 2002’s The Rules of Attraction. He took note of the tricks they tend to employ—strategic blurring, softened angles, abstract cuts intended to obfuscate what’s really happening on camera. “There’s either a form of censorship or a form of unintended romanticism to those scenes,” he says—two qualities he wanted to avoid at all costs.
Find the full conversation over at Vanity Fair.
Kyle's advertising work includes spots for Microsoft and the California Tobacco Control Program. For more of Kyle's work, please visit Chelsea.com