Flippant suicidal comments degrade severity of mental health issues

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Graphic by Lily Klau ’23

People aged 15 to 24 in the U.S. relation to suicide in high schools according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

After a stressful test, I always need to mentally prepare myself for what will come next. Unlike many of my peers, I do not fear the possibility of a big “F” in the gradebook–I’m usually confident in my studies and proud of my academic accomplishments.  My concern lies more in having to listen to the  disturbing comments my classmates make as we exit the room.

 “I did so badly; I just want to kill myself, ” one friend said upon completing a chemistry quiz. 

I laughed along, but something inside of me just didn’t feel right.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in the U.S. Nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide and 9% have made an attempt to take their lives, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

So, why are comments about the topic of suicide  so casually tossed around by our generation?

The subject of suicide deserves more respect. It is not a punchline and not something to joke about, especially given the real consequences many endure. ”

— Sage Cohen ’25

Whenever a situation doesn’t go someone’s way, an instant reflex is to follow up with an insensitive comment like “I want to kill myself.” 

Most often, the phrase is accepted as a benign, hyperbolic comment, with no true intention attached. But, as someone who struggles with mental health and as someone who has friends who struggle with their mental health, I am deeply disturbed and saddened by these remarks. 

Even if the intention behind them is harmless, the message they send is not only dangerous, but degrading to someone who may actually be struggling with these issues. They send a message that you are contemplating hurting yourself.

According to HelpGuide, ​​almost everyone who attempts suicide leaves some sort of hint or warning. No matter how casually or jokingly expressed, statements like “I wish I hadn’t been born,” or “I can’t see any way out,” may signal severe suicidal intentions.

If you’re struggling with your mental health in any way, you deserve to get help. But how will our community know who actually needs help if everyone is casually throwing around comments suggesting that they want to die? 

The subject of suicide deserves more respect.  It is not a punchline and not something to joke about, especially given the real consequences many endure.  

Over 550 people attended Westport’s recently-held Out of the Darkness walk that helps raise funding for combating suicide. The walk ended up raising $131,000 for suicide prevention.  

This was an astonishing improvement for addressing suicide in Westport. However, we strongly need to dig deeper and discover how to improve our everyday casual comments when it comes to suicide. 

So, the next time you feel the need to blurt out the line  “I want to kill myself,” stop and think. You are doing more harm than simply expressing your bad grade on a chemistry quiz.