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U.K. Store Removes Trick-or-Treating Bags Depicting Suicide After Backlash

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

The UK-based chain Poundstretcher came under fire this week for selling Halloween-themed bags that depicted a man hanging from a tree. The item had been marketed for children.

The backlash started when Sam McAllister, a mother of two, bought the bag for her 5-year-old daughter, The Sun reported. In a Facebook post, McAllister described what happened:

Bought this for Chloe for Halloween… she asked me, what is the man doing in the tree, mummy??.. what’s your thoughts?

I didn’t even realize that I had bought 5 year old daughter anything other than a innocent Halloween treat bag, until we got home and she was looking at it and asked me… mummy what is that man doing in that tree??

Others took to Twitter to ask Poundstretcher to remove the item from its stores.

“Suicide is not a Halloween detail,” one Twitter user wrote. “Suicide is when you’re struggling so much and you just cant take being alive. I personally have been close to it a few times.”

Every year, issues related to mental health, like suicide and psychiatric hospitals, are incorporated into “spooky” costumes, Halloween-themed items and attractions. Last year, took heat for selling a makeup kit that simulated self-harm scars. Knott’s Berry Farm, a popular theme park in Southern California, actually removed one their psychiatric hospital themed attractions — originally titled FearVR:5150 based on the California police code indicating a person with a mental illness may harm themselves or others — after getting pressure from mental health advocates nationwide.

A spokesperson for Poundstretcher responded to McAllister and removed the offensive bags. Although it did not release an official statement, Poundstretcher’s official Twitter account has been responding to complaints.

Halloween is a time to be spooky — not too demonize or make light of people who struggle with their mental health. To read a tongue-and-cheek guide for what you can be for Halloween this year (instead of a psychiatric patient) head here.

Originally published: October 26, 2018
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