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The Problem With Those Jokes and Memes About Suicide

A few months ago, my 11-year-old cousin was telling me about how school was. It was the usual: This person is being mean. This person is my new best friend. The mundane things that go on in the fifth grade.

Then, he said something I never thought I would hear an 11-year-old say. He said two of his “friends” had told him to go kill himself because he did well on a test. This broke my heart. Not only because mental illness and suicide are something that hit a bit too close to home for me, but mainly because I wondered why on earth children, no matter what age, think it is OK to tell another human being to go kill him or herself.

I, of course, expressed to him how valuable his life is, how he is going to achieve so much throughout his lifetime and how not OK it was that his “friends” had said that to him. I am lucky because he is an intelligent boy who knows not to listen to nasty things people say.

What about the children who aren’t lucky enough to know how to block out the negative comments? Who is going to tell them they are worthy and deserve to be loved no matter who it is by?

I hadn’t thought about this for a while until I saw a meme today. Now memes have become a massive part of social media, and with children being exposed to social media from such a young age these days, they are also exposed to memes. Most of them are harmless, silly juvenile images with captions. I won’t lie. I love a good meme, but today, I saw one which made me realize why people think it’s OK to tell people to end their own lives too easily.

The meme was of President Barak Obama running in one direction and then quickly turning around. It was captioned, “When you’re about to kill yourself but you remembered some memes you didn’t post.”

People, not just children, need to be aware of how inappropriate it is to be so casual about someone taking their own life. People think it is OK to turn such a serious and sensitive topic into a joke. It has become something so casual that people send these jokes to each other for amusement.

Suicide is not a joke. It is not something people should take lightly. It is someone being so unhappy they no longer want to be alive. It is a difficult thing for some people to understand someone wanting to take their own life, but take it from someone who does understand — it is the most heartbreaking thing to realize you no longer want to live.

So please, educate your children. Don’t make inappropriate memes about a serious topic that needs to be talked about more.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Image via Thinkstock.