In the past year, casual and flippant jokes about suicide have increased. While once we took people saying they wanted to die seriously, the times have changed. Some may use these phrases as a coping strategy, but recently this has become a trend used among college students, many repeating phrases such as, “I’m good, I just want to die all the time,” or “If that ever happens, I’m going to kill myself.”
The argument that anything is allowed on the grounds of humor, but if we’re being truly honest with ourselves, we don’t abide by that principle in every situation. Even the media has criticized those who don’t take the topic of suicide more seriously, like when YouTuber Logan Paul made jokes as he stared at a suicide victim in Japan while recording for all the world to see. Some topics, even in comedy, are considered too crude or hurtful as they shape culture in a way we don’t want to be a part of. Dark humor can be amusing, but as with all comedy, it’s about place, time and the audience.
For instance, it has become increasingly more difficult to determine who is truly struggling with suicidal thoughts and manifesting them as jokes, and who is simply going along with the craze. Montana is currently number one in the U.S. for suicides, with 25.9 for every 100,000 residents, according to NBC News. This is almost double the national average. It’s especially important in our area to be looking for signs of suicidal ideation and helping those in need around us. But with these off-handed remarks and jokes being made in many conversations for young adults, sometimes it feels impossible to know for sure where that person may stand mentally.
It’s important to talk about suicidal thoughts, our mental health and what negativities might be afflicting us. But when we make jokes degrading ourselves for feeling negative, what are we saying to those around us who feel similarly? Often if we speak against ourselves we don’t believe it hurts the people around us. Some young adults have admitted they feel uncomfortable talking about depression or suicidal thoughts because people will see it as a joke or reply “same” without taking into consideration that it may be a real cry for help.
Let’s be a campus that empowers not only those around us, but ourselves too. Talking about dying and suffering on a daily basis as though it’s profoundly hilarious is hurting people and our culture more than we realize. It’s important to use our words wisely regarding serious topics like these, because we never know who around us suffering.