Why I Think This Tweet From The Onion About Suicide Crossed the Line
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
We live in a world more concerned with political correctness than the generations before us. Sexist jokes, racist jokes and calling someone the N- or the R-word are just not OK. Sometimes, people say millennials are “too sensitive”or “can’t take a joke.” But to me, most of the time being politically correct is common sense and is about just being nice to others.
For me, the thing I’m most “sensitive” about are jokes related to suicide and mental illness. Mental illness is something people can’t control. And, with suicide, that’s someone’s life you’re talking about. Joking around and saying things like, “You should just kill yourself” — it’s just not funny. Because… what if someone did?
The website The Onion is a satire news organization known for pushing the envelope on political correctness. And I think a photo they tweeted Monday crossed the line.
— The Onion (@TheOnion) January 31, 2017
A friend of mine brought it to my attention and even reported it (although nothing was done). The Onion tweeted a picture of a dog with a noose in its mouth. The Tweet reads: “New Program Provides Depressed Americans With Suicide Assistance Dogs” and references one of their old articles.
Some people thought the Tweet was funny. Others thought it was in poor taste. For instance, Twitter user Althea Atherton, who is a suicide attempt survivor, said it could also be “empowering to suicidal thoughts.”
@TheOnion as a suicide attempt survivor, I urge you to reconsider. I “get why it’s funny”, but could be empowering to suicidal thoughts.
— Althea Atherton ☁???? (@alymaybe) January 31, 2017
“It’s a bad attempt at a pun with physician assisted suicide and assistance dogs. Not even a good one,” she tweeted.
@TheOnion Making fun of depression and mental illness is not funny. Unfollow.
— Julie Brethauer (@JulieBrethauer) January 31, 2017
@TheOnion I laugh at 99% of your articles. Count this in the 1%. Bad taste.
— Patricia Latendresse (@LatendresseP) January 31, 2017
I am always very conscious of things that may be a trigger for those experiencing depression. If just one person considers suicide because of a joke you told, is the joke really worth it, even if hundreds of people found it funny? I’m thinking no.
For instance, in another article on The Mighty, contributor Deborah Greene wrote about one of her triggers — people making light of suicide.
“Survivors of suicide loss spend much of our days dodging triggers. We sit down to watch a television show only to have a joke made about suicide. … We try to tune into election coverage only to hear words like ‘political suicide’ tossed about,” she wrote.
“We survivors are everywhere. And there is nothing funny about the loss we are learning to live with. So how about we stop treating it like a punch line or a reasonable response to a moment of frustration. How about we treat it like the serious and painful issue that it is; an issue that claims another life every 12.8 minutes in this country.”
For anyone who saw this tweet and it triggered something, first of all, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And please know you are not alone and that many other people feel the same way as you do. And please don’t think you are being “sensitive” for feeling the way you feel.
My feedback to The Onion is this: There are some things and topics we should joke about, and there are some we shouldn’t. This, The Onion, was one of those times where you shouldn’t have.
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.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Image via The Onion Facebook page