What Star Wars Actor's Suicidal Thoughts 20 Years Ago Can Teach Us Now
We teach kids that words matter, that we should treat others the way we want to be treated. This message seems to be lost, though, when it comes to bullying people we don’t know through the media or online.
Ahmed Best knows this well. The actor, who played Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars prequels “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” experienced backlash when his character wasn’t received well by audiences. This week, Best tweeted about that time in his life, revealing the harsh criticism made him consider suicide.
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival.
20 years next year I faced a media backlash that still affects my career today. This was the place I almost ended my life. It’s still hard to talk about. I survived and now this little guy is my gift for survival. Would this be a good story for my solo show? Lemme know. pic.twitter.com/NvVnImoJ7N
— Ahmed BEst (@ahmedbest) July 3, 2018
Suicide is always complicated — but experiencing bullying can make someone more likely to take their own life. In fact, among adolescents, both bullying victims and bullies themselves are more likely to think about and attempt suicide.
Bullying doesn’t stop in childhood. A 2014 study found 40 percent of adults have experienced cyberbullying, and another study found that 27 percent of adults have experienced abusive conduct at work. Especially now, with the ability to tweet or post cruel things about celebrities right at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget there are people behind the characters and that when we abuse them online, we’re putting their mental health at risk.
Some Star Wars fans responded to Best with support and asked others to do the same.
Fellow #StarWars fans. Let's come together and show the supremely talented @ahmedbest that there is a lot of love and appreciation among us for the work he did. Retweet this if you agree. pic.twitter.com/tBQEsEjVLX
— JJ Halford (@Doubledown1138) July 3, 2018
.@ahmedbest you have always been a wonderful person and I think your story needs to be heard and people are ready to hear it. Opening up publicly would be an inspiration to many.
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) July 4, 2018
People need to seperate character from individual. I don’t know you as a person in real life, but I do know that somewhere out there in the world there is a kid who grew up on Jar Jar, a kid who’s fav. character is Jar Jar and that truly is something special.
— Matthew Vlossak (@MatthewVlossak) July 4, 2018
On Wednesday, Best responded to the feedback, writing on Twitter:
Thank you all for your love and kindness. Its been overwhelming. I’m gonna start writing this show. Gonna need help cause I’ve never done this before. I will be trying stuff out and posting it here. Let folks know. Thanks for all your support. It means so very much to me.
It’s nice when the internet is used as a force for good.
Lead image via Twitter