Your Twitter and Instagram feeds were probably nothing but nothing but pictures of Robin Williams Monday night, right? And you probably saw the image of Aladdin hugging the genie about a thousand times. More than 270,000 people have shared the tweet, which means that as many as 69 million people have seen it.The problem? It violates well-established public health standards for how we talk about suicide.
Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention writes “Suicide should never be presented as an option. That’s a formula for potential contagion.”
Via The Washington Post:
Moutier is referring to a well-documented phenomenon, better-known as “copycat suicide,” in which media coverage or publicity around one death encourages other vulnerable people to commit suicide in the same way. Adolescents are most at risk of suicide contagion; in recent years, groups like AFSP have also become particularly attentive to the role the Internet plays in romanticizing notorious or high-profile deaths, something it has long asked both the news and entertainment industries to avoid.
“The potential for online reports, photos/videos and stories to go viral makes it vital that online coverage of suicide follow site or industry safety recommendations,” one media guide reads. But in the hours since @TheAcademy’s tweet went viral, professionals like Moutier have become concerned that it doesn’t, in fact, follow established safety recommendations.
“The starry sky from Disney’s Aladdin, and the written implication that suicide is somehow a liberating option, presents suicide in too celebratory a light,” Moutier said. In other words, DON’T RETWEET IT. DON’T EVEN LOOK AT IT! Bad, Academy! Bad!