Students make mental illnesses light subject with jokes

Gracie Warda, Writer

I want to kill myself.

These words are heard almost daily; before exams or tests, after a night of restless sleep, during a boring class and at several other points during a school day. The severity of these words are not shown when they’re spoken so lightly. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said that 44,193 people die yearly at their own hand; Suicide has become the third leading cause of death among teenagers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Statements which glorify mental disorders and spread negativity are unimaginably far from casual.

Imagine someone who has lost a loved one to suicide or other tragic events. These people suffer daily, drowning in a sea of what ifs. What if I was there? What if I had helped more? What if I would have answered the phone? Now, imagine these same people, already struggling with grief, hearing others joke about killing themselves. Not only does this remind them of their loss, it is ridiculously offensive. A topic that has affected them so deeply, and had such a serious impact on their life is not something to joke about or take lightly.

Think of someone struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. According to I need a Lighthouse, Depression and Suicide Awareness Program, 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood. Making suicide a light topic by joking about it only encourages these students who are already fighting depression.

In addition to self-directed violence, students are spreading negativity among each other. Many students will tell others to “kill yourself” as well. Regardless of the non-serious intended meaning, this type of rude statement is unacceptable. Eating disorders, anxiety, depression and especially suicide have been disgustingly glorified. Not only have books, movies and TV shows romanticized suicide, but even clothing companies have jumped on the bandwagon. Two t-shirts produced by Urban Outfitters come to mind; one reading “depression” and the other, “Eat less”. While neither are being produced anymore, both serve as a reminder of society’s light hearted view of psychological illness.

Think of the mother, forcing herself through every day, wondering if there was more she could’ve done to save her child. Or the little girl, too young to understand what happened, who will never again look up to her big sister. The best friend, who will instinctively pick up the phone to talk about something important, and be shattered by pain all over again when she realizes no one will pick up. The boyfriend who will fall into a pit of his own depression after the loss of his lover.

How would they feel if they heard you throwing around suicide like a joke?