Experience

Time to talk mental health

Stefan Brending

Jordan Neel, jneel@lmcexperience.com

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Mental health isn’t talked about commonly in mass media. In the past few years, I’ve realized it’s something that should be talked about more.

I’ve wondered why this subject is so taboo to discuss. Maybe it’s because people don’t want to talk about something that will make them feel down. But when it is mentioned, the subject of mental health is treated like a joke.

We live in the age of the Internet where today’s youth make jokes out of many everything including the deaths of celebrities. One thing people joke about on social media, especially Twitter, is suicide. Ironically, it’s all jokes until somebody actually takes their own life.

According to the World Health Organization, every 40 seconds someone in the world takes their own life. While I can’t name everyone who has committed this act, one person in particular is lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington. On Thursday, July 20 of this year the singer hung himself. It’s sad for his loved ones, but it appears mass media briefly discussed it and after a couple days no longer discussed the issues of why it happened. Mass media outlets could have done a better job of promoting preventative measures to avoid similar incidents.

It’s concerning since young tend to look up to entertainers. Some teenagers may look up to Bennington so much that if they themselves struggle with depression, may consider the same horrifying path he took.

According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death between people ages of 15-34. Suicide and the importance of mental health should be talked about regularly because it may save someone’s life. Entertainers have a public platform that could be used to impact lives in a major way.

Rapper and actor Kid Cudi on The Arsenio Hall Show in 2014 said he wants his music to stop kids from committing suicide. It’s admirable, the fact that someone so influential takes the initiative to have their music be so therapeutic that it makes people battling suicidal thoughts feel there is still a way out of the dark.

At this year’s MTV Video Music Awards rapper Logic performed his song “1-800-273-8255,” the number being the contact for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. This performance included suicide survivors and helped raise awareness on suicide prevention. The night of Logic’s performance searches for the number rose 940 percent.

This is the start of what can be changed in the mass media. It starts with music, and maybe it can progress into in television and movies to create a lasting dialogue that will in turn save thousands of lives.

A possible solution might be a TV program that brings up discussion and awareness in smaller circles as well. Topics can go from people who have considered suicide to ways to help battle depression, anxiety or unhealthy urges. It would be a show that uplifts viewers and educates us on how to keep our mental state healthy.

At the end of the day life is hard. No matter who you are, at some point you faced a hardship that made you depressed. Some people have chosen the route of killing themselves to take away that feeling. What should be noted is that it’s a permanent solution to a temporary situation. That’s a message mass media needs to put out for the whole world to see.

Seeing the media discuss mental health could maybe lower the numbers of death by suicide. I envision a world where discussion is consistent enough to make people understand that suicide should never be an option and there is always help.

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