World Suicide Prevention Month Shines A Light On Awareness

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Erin Gardner | Lifestyle Staff Writer | eg245916@ohio.edu

This month is World Suicide Prevention Month. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of U.S. deaths with 44,193 deaths per year. There are about 121 suicides per day, and the annual suicide rate is about 13 per 100,000 individuals. In Ohio alone, there are 1,650 suicides and Ohio’s death toll is ranked 33 out of the 50 states.

Several non-profit organizations have presented themselves as lifelines on an online presence. To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit organization that combats against suicide, depression, anxiety, addiction, and self-harm. The Trevor Project is a national 24-hour suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth struggling. IMAlive is an online chat that uses volunteers to help individuals struggling. Here on campus, CPS offers professional therapy and is free for students who have paid the WellBeing Fee. Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) is located on the third floor of the Hudson Health Center and drop in hours are Monday-Friday from 9:45 am to 3:15 pm.

­­­­­­­ The Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” portrays a suicide and is being renewed for a second season. The first season faced some controversy in its message and images.

Elena Golubovich, an Ohio University freshman, shares ““13 Reasons Why” is not a show that should be broadcasted at the direct demographic of teens because it depicts an unrealistic idea of what life will be like for those around the victim when they die. It also somewhat negates the idea that suicide is a horrible, irreconcilable action that anyone should never ever come to. In addition, the producers and writers of the show altered the original story from the book, making it more about the attention and action that happened as opposed to the emotional results.”

Hannah Pridemore, a fellow freshman agrees “I think making “13 Reasons Why” into a show was a terrible idea because not only was it extremely graphic when showing Hannah’s suicide resulting in copycat suicides to actually happen, it also glorified and romanticized the idea of mental illness and suicide. It was done in poor faith.”

In recent times the copycat suicide theory has come into play, suicide that is inspired by an actual suicide or a fictional portrayal of it.  In rare instances, celebrities who have committed suicide gain status and praise among members of the younger generation.  Immortalized by some in death, they are praised for the courage involved in taking their own lives, a perception that leads to a sense of social acceptance or social normalcy to suicide.  Recently, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park took his life in August, which reintroduced the theory to society.

Clark Howard of CNN reports, “After the premiere of “13 Reasons Why,” the search phrase “how to commit suicide” rose 26% above what would normally have been expected for that time; “suicide prevention” went up 23%; and “suicide hotline number” climbed 21%, based on the paper’s data”. The show, for many viewers, triggered negatively charged emotions that damaged any personal goals the show hoped to bring about for discussion.

Howard continues “Overall, the increase over the 19-day period represented a total of about 900,000 to 1.5 million more searches than otherwise expected”, Ayers said’.

The joke, “welcome to your tape” had also become a viral meme on social media, normalizing what had happened in the show.

Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness is critical to a better future.  Having a mental health issue should be treated equally to ill physical health.  Just because it cannot be seen does not mean it does not hurt.  The show does not accurately capture what mental illness looks like. Be the change. Spark conversation with peers about these topics and reach out to the people you care about.

Suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255.

Other sources: https://afsp.org, https://twloha.com, https://www.save.org, http://www.sprc.org, http://www.allianceofhope.org, http://www.suicideoutreach.org, http://www.thetrevorproject.org, http://livethroughthis.org, http://jasonfoundation.com

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