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People Are Warning Each Other About a Mental Health Trigger in 'Orange Is the New Black’

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Editor's Note

The following contains spoilers for season seven of “Orange Is the New Black.”

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

Following the July 26 release of the seventh and final season of the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” viewers are taking to social media to warn each other about a major mental health trigger in episode four — which doesn’t include a warning.

“Orange Is the New Black,” which follows inmates at a women’s correctional center, gained critical and popular acclaim for its humanistic perspective on those in the prison system. The show has focused on the mental health of the inmates since the beginning. Season seven of the series is no different.

In the fourth episode of the final season, titled “How to Do Life,” inmate Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, a booksmart woman newly sentenced to life in prison after being framed for a murder she did not commit, struggles with her current reality. Feeling hopeless and out of options, “Orange Is the New Black” depicts Taystee arranging her belongings before making a suicide attempt.

The scene occurs in the last five minutes of the episode and lasts approximately 13 seconds. Taystee decides not to go through with the attempt, but it’s enough to trigger you if you’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts. Like after a graphic scene of character Suzanne self-harming in a season six episode, viewers took to social media to warn each other about Taystee’s suicide attempt scene.

“ok I love OITNB but fuck Netflix for showing another graphic suicide scene in one of their shows with absolutely no warning for viewers. Skip the last 5 min of s7 e4!!!!!” tweeted @kennamorkk.

Twitter users also called out Netflix for recently removing a graphic suicide scene from the series “13 Reasons Why” but failing to include at least a trigger warning in the latest season of “Orange Is the New Black.”

“so netflix really edited out the 13rw suicide scene just to put one into oitnb. yeah. okay. cool cool,” wrote Twitter user @inthemeantimes.

13 Reasons Why” follows a group of teenagers as they learn the story of a classmate who died by suicide. Told through a series of flashbacks, the first series of the show ended with a lengthy and graphic scene of the main character Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) dying by suicide.

Netflix and show creators announced on July 15 they removed Hannah’s suicide from the episode after studies showed the suicide rate among young people rose after “13 Reasons Why” aired. Advocates argued the graphic scene, which the creators hoped would start an open conversation about mental health, was too triggering for many and led to an increase in the suicide rate.

Danielle Brooks, who plays the character Taystee, told TV Line in an interview filming the suicide scene in episode four was very difficult and she would have liked more support on set. Brooks revealed in a 2015 Glamour article she personally experienced suicidal thoughts in the past.

“I do wish there was a level of therapeutic support for when we were doing scenes like that,” Brooks told TV Line, adding:

This show was blessed to have had women that were able to carry these stories without needing that, [but] I still think it could have been helpful, at least for me. I found myself having to walk around the set for about 10-20 minutes afterwards to clear my head of what I was experiencing in my heart, mind, body and soul, through one-hundred percent of my being.

In the 12th episode of the current season of “Orange Is the New Black,” Taystee again contemplates suicide when she learns her life sentence won’t be overturned. She feels hopeless, but doesn’t go through with her second attempt after she flashes back to a past conversation with her best friend and fellow inmate Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley).

“Hold on a little longer,” Poussey tells Taystee in the flashback. “There’s good s—t working its way to you that you don’t even know about.” 

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Header image via “Orange Is the New Black” Facebook page

Originally published: July 28, 2019
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