I had decided that my future was non-existant beyond a dark, black, abyss with no hope. I would be doing my family a favor in relieving them of the shame that, in mind, I knew they felt about me. My mind was obviously not processing logically but I had no way to step out of myself and see that. Not an uncommon scenario for many who contemplate suicide. I even dry -fired the guy in my mouth to “prepare” for the moment when the gun would be loaded.
I was lucky. A friend and my family intervened before I could end my life. Many are not so lucky. As I approach my eight-year anniversary in recovery on April 8th 2015 , I now spend my time educating and raising awareness about mental illness. Trying to help break through the stereotypes and stigma.(I left the practice of law to do so) During those eight years,I have seen men and women recover. I have seen them struggle mightily. Some didn’t make it.
It therefore, always saddens me when I see mental illness turned into off-color jokes, T-Shirt jokes, mugs and even jewelry as I saw a couple weeks ago with a razor blade at the end of a chain with the slogan “Body Rage”.
It is unfortunately a never ending game of “whack-a-mole” as these tasteless items appear. There is an outcry and maybe the item is removed from sale, maybe not. This is especially true with the t-shirts, mugs and novelties sold on “marketplace” websites where everything is user uploaded with not much oversight from the company providing the platform. Not much incentive to be socially conscious. Money is better.
I however, do expect a lot more from Amazon. They have taken stands before against objectionable material. I am not speaking of items in which reasonable people can differ on their meaning but content which no reasonable person or society would disagree. As a society, we can agree that suicide is a serious topic. Should it profited off as as a joke? There will be those that will mention free speech and artistic freedom and those are imporant to be sure. Amazon however, is not the government. They can pick and choose what they will allow and they have on many occasions. Suicide is not something that should be profited off of by a socially concious company like Amazon. Yet, they are allowing marketplace t-shirts that turn suicide into a joke.
The most disturbing example is a T-shirt entitled “Suicide Watch”
When I speak to college students and other groups, I always make the point that we all have the one universal tool we can use in our recovery and empowering others to recover. It requires no specialized training or education. That tool is empathy. For those however who are ignorant of the facts of suicide and see it as a joke, empathy can sometimes be difficult to call upon.
So as I write this, I am on “Suicide Watch” I am on the watch for Amazon and others who allow such items to take a socially conscious and empathetic stance and reject such items on all of their platforms, US and other countries.
Please feel free to tweet Jeff Bezos at @JeffBezos and let him know how you feel.