Why we should be more mindful of joking about suicide

Mark Mapoles, Contributor

“I just want to die.” It’s been a phrase that people have started to say more often these days and it has become a joke for friends to use to talk about things that are really hard. I heard someone say, “This exam is going to be so hard, I just want to die” the other day. It’s really weird to hear that. Maybe it’s because mental health has become more talked about in the last couple years and so people have become desensitized to the serious topic of death and don’t realize what they are saying and how it affects people. More importantly, people don’t realize that what they think is a joke, is a very serious issue for others. Hearing people joke about suicide makes it harder to reach out for help for those individuals who do have thoughts of suicide. That’s why we should become more aware of how our language can affect others and only use certain phrases when we are with friends we know.

According to the World Health Organization, “Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds.” It’s sad to know that the second leading cause of death in our age group has become a meme on the internet and is something people joke about in person. It might be because we are a culture that doesn’t openly talk about the hard things in life, so we joke about things we don’t fully understand. To help you comprehend what it’s like to be in the shoes of someone who is thinking about suicide, try saying, “I just want to die” out loud right now and pretend like you actually mean it. Now imagine trying to admit that to a friend knowing that your friend group jokes around about death and suicide. That’s a conversation that even the most courageous of us could not have.

Reaching out for help can be the hardest thing to do for people considering suicide. Building up the courage to give life one last try and mutter the words – I just want to die – is tough, and for people to think it might be a joke makes it even tougher. In the 14 years that I spent wanting to die, I only ever reached out for help once – I was told that I must be joking. That is a hard pill to swallow, the person/people that you were hoping would help you ended up thinking you were joking. That’s why we should be more aware of our language and how it might affect others. We should try and become a more supportive culture so when someone does talk about suicide, we can be there for them and get them the help they need. I would hate to see someone I know miss out on experiencing the joys in life because they weren’t taken seriously when they reached out for support.

School is hard enough on its own with the stress of group projects, presentations, papers and exams – we shouldn’t make it even harder on certain individuals and joke about something that is a very serious issue to them. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, tell someone. For on-campus support visit counselling services in BR276 or email wellbeing@capilanou.ca, or in the community, call the BC Suicide Helpline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

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