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Let's Talk About Suicide

If you or anybody you know are suicidal, please call the Nations Suicide Prevention Lifeline. There is always help when you need it. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Suicide— an epidemic that affects millions of people worldwide and a word people have a phobia of discussing or simply uttering. Slowly, the concept of suicide is rising into the eyes of the media, music, and Hollywood. Today, suicide is discussed more and more, but not everyone is informed enough. It has, now more than ever, become a prevalent topic in media today. According to the World Health Organization, suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. In just 2017, tens of thousands of Americans have died from suicide and the percentages continue to skyrocket. Two of those individuals are rock star legends Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. The acts of Bennington and Cornell illustrate the truth of depression; it is constantly covered by a mask and is difficult to uncover. Regardless of how successful someone is or how perfect their life may seem, suicide and depression can affect anyone. Regardless of the fact that someone may have a family to take care of, suicide and depression can affect anyone. Regardless of how happy they seem or how they seem to be improving, suicide and depression can affect anyone. Their actions demonstrate that anyone can be depressed and that, sometimes, there is no superficial reason behind those actions. But once you look under the surface, you can find them. Chester Bennington was a victim of sexual abuse in his childhood and that led to his substance and alcohol abuse later on in his life and many theorize being one of the prevalent reasons behind his depression. Bennington battled depression for years and the music he produced gave us a look into how it affected him. A few months before his death, one of Bennington's close friends, Chris Cornell, took his own life on May 18, 2017 and Bennington died on July 20, what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday. Money nor fame were evident issues that contributed to their acts, these are things that anyone can experience; Bennington and Cornell were just like us. They were happy, they had families, they had friends, yet they still had suicidal tendencies. However, someone does not have to have a difficult childhood or upbringing to have these tendencies, anyone can fall victim to suicide. Suicide does not discriminate. The notion that people that “have it good” cannot be depressed or suicidal draws a line between happiness and being a walking dead. Their acts have forced the media to discuss suicide, and today, the music industry, the television industry, and the theater industry are doing their part in bringing this stigmatic topic forward. In the music industry, suicide has been a topic that has been heavily discussed in recent times. Rising rapper Logic uses his platform to spread the message of suicide prevention through his song, titled 1-800-273-8255—the number of the national suicide prevention hotline. This song discusses the act of suicide and the feeling of being alone and lost. The music video that came out on August 17, 2017 follows an LGBT African American boy and his life growing up. It tells a story of the child’s abandonment from home for being queer and his mental decay that follows— including a heart-rending scene of him holding a gun to his head before picking up his phone to call the suicide hotline. Logic, alongside Alessia Cara and Khalid, performed this song at the 2017 Video Music Awards as a tribute to Bennington and Cornell following a separate video tribute that was wrongly cut short for commercials. In the theater industry, Tony Award winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen, surrounds the topic of suicide and its aftermath and the impact one act of suicide can have on an entire community. It follows the anxious protagonist, Evan Hansen, and the path of lies he's created in hope of helping the victim’s family. Connor Murphy, a drug-addict teen that is constantly alone and invisible, commits suicide early in the show. Following the path of lies driven by Evan’s anxiety, the show promotes the phrase “you will be found” to help any of those contemplating suicide. This show has helped push boundaries and erase some of the stigma surrounding suicide in the theater industry. In the television industry, something that has been controversial and heavily discussed throughout 2017 is the new original Netflix series, Thirteen Reasons Why. The new series follows the process and the aftermath of the suicide of Hannah Baker, a teenager who was a new student at her high school. Leaving behind tapes for each person who drove her to take her own life, the show follows one individual, possibly the protagonist’s closest friend, and his reaction and journey through each of the tapes. Discussing topics such as rape, bullying, and suicide and including extremely graphic scenes, Thirteen Reasons Why sparked discussion and awareness about suicide for months following the release of the show and was quickly renewed for another season. With all this awareness, suicide rates somehow continue to skyrocket. Possibly from lack of discussion among peers and the ongoing notion that mental illness is not as serious as people make it, victims continue to feel invisible and empty. Although it is being discussed in the media, it is not a topic many people would discuss with their peers. This is where the issue sets it. When the topic of suicide is mentioned among a group of friends, everyone attempts to divert the topic to something less taboo and serious as if it is irrelevant to today’s world. Because no one wants to discuss it, those that contemplate it tend to go to no one making them feel completely alone and odd. It must be a continuous effort by everyone to bring this topic forward and discuss it among peers. It is difficult to see if someone is contemplating suicide or what they are going through from the outside looking in. Anyone can fall victim to suicide and it is up to everyone to let people know that they matter and their feelings are acceptable and that they should reach out for help. It is time for people to realize that mental health is just as important as physical health.

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