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The Suicide Meme That Made Me Sad and Angry, All at Once

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I consider myself to have a decent sense of humor. I make jokes at inappropriate times to diffuse tension, and I even use laughter as a coping mechanism. I am not one who advocates for comedians to be shut down from being able to perform. I believe in free speech. I’m often not very politically correct myself. Now that I’ve gotten those caveats out of the way, let me share with you something I experienced recently while scrolling through my social media feed.

I’m friends with all kinds of people, with all kinds of differing view points, and today, I found myself staring at a meme on my screen that was a spoof on a bathroom sign that had two nondescript figures on it. One was standing on a chair with a noose around its neck and the second figure was sitting on a chair holding a bag of popcorn facing the first chair and the caption was, “Suicide Watch.” The person who posted it made a comment about finding it funny, and to please not attack them for sharing it. No one had commented on it, but it had one “like.” I found myself staring at it, feeling angry and sad, all at once. I sent a screenshot of it to my husband and asked him if I’d lost my sense of humor because I didn’t see anything funny about it.

I’m a suicide survivor. Maybe I don’t find this funny because I take mental health and suicide seriously. Maybe the person who shared it has never lost someone to it, or maybe they just have a sick sense of humor. Maybe they shared it for shock purposes. In my mind though, it’s not funny. Not because I’m some politically correct crusader, because I’m not. In my mind, nothing about suicide is funny. Nothing about attempting suicide is funny. Making a joke out of someone wanting to end their life isn’t funny.

The stigma that surrounds mental illness — especially suicide — is not something to laugh at. I don’t care if you have a “sick” sense of humor. From a survivor’s standpoint, that shit isn’t funny. Period.

I know we live in a world where at any moment we can share whatever we want, and feelings be damned. I believe we’ve created a climate that is conducive only to “me,” and rarely do we stop to think about consequences. We do not think about unintended consequences, we think only about the moment we are in and not about who these things could potentially impact.

Have we lost, or are we just diminishing, our ability to be empathetic in this social media age? Are we creating a culture of apathy instead of empathy? I see people say all the time that we’re way to sensitive now, and no one can take a joke any longer, but when it comes to the flippancy with which people treat mental illness, when is enough, enough?

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via ijeab and meme via

Originally published: May 22, 2017
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