I am seeing such a disconnect in the ways I’m seeing suicide discussed in popular culture/social media right now. I’ve read/seen about a million discussions about why 13 Reasons Why is THE WORST for not following conventions about how to portray suicide. I have disagree with some of those discussions (I recognize suicide contagion is a concern and that teens may be influenced by media, but I actually like they way they treated it, and feel it does less to glamorize suicide than most portrayals I’ve seen). And I think that a lot of these discussions fail to recognize that depressed teens will seek out content portraying depression and suicide because they can relate to them, and that will happen whether it’s Netflix or plenty of other content they can find online). But it seems so much of the discussion is predicated on the idea that if there’s no “reminders” of suicide and or depression, kids won’t experience it...instead of focusing more on how to actualize recognize when they are and how to best help them.

And then there’s a couple celebrity deaths, and suddenly media and social media are exploding with talk of suicide. And people are writing dramatic posts about how heartbroken they are, how inspiring they found that celebrity to be, and/or changing their facebook profile pictures to Spade or Bourdain (or, as at least one FB friend has done, Spade and then Bourdain this morning). So... why is it that people think it’s horrible for a TV show to portray suicide in a way that may potentially glamorize it... and then glamorize IRL?

If people felt some special connection to one of these celebrities and wants to express their feelings, they should. BUT, there’s also a huge element of jumping on the performative bandwagon, in a way that, if anything, has potential to do harm. I already have at least one friend whose lost someone close to suicide say that’s taking a social media break specifically because of all the talk about Spade and Bourdain. And I worry for people that are really struggling right now, it might feel really horrible to see how much people care about someone they don’t know, while ignoring what may be going on in the lives of people close to them (and this is conjecture, but I remember what it’s like to be depressed and have people really oblivious and/or insensitive about it).

So anyway, just... be careful about how you discuss this. And remember that there are probably people in your life that need support more than they need to your heartbreak about a celebrity death. And while I don’t want to discourage posting hotlines or websites, I think that when people push that as the “right” way to get help, it also can inadvertently send the message that people would rather you call to talk to a stranger than “burden” them with your problems.