Are Suicide Jokes Funny?
In this new social construct, it has become a norm for our generation to make humour out of suicide, but is this ok?
“OMG I just want to kill myself *laughing emoji*”
“Did you take your meds this morning? LOL”
“UGH. I have my maths this afternoon *mimics gun with hand at head*”
Have you ever made a joke like this? It’s funny, right?
Suicide is such sensitive topic, and joking about it totally demeans the subject completely. Too often do I see suicidal memes on social media from teenagers sharing them. These range from jokes about killing themselves because of the HSC exam they have tomorrow, to wanting to shoot themselves because their alarm is set for 6am. These days, memes are a part of modern society and blend with suicide as a joke. Humour has become highly exaggerated for teenagers and active social media users, leading memes to be spread universally, promoting suicide as a norm to be laughed at.
I find it so sad that anyone would laugh about attempting to take their own life. But why is it that we do it? Why do we joke about such a serious issue?
I’m not sure people understand what they’re saying when they make these jokes. I realise that it’s a way to express your negative feelings or a coping mechanism, but really? Come on guys.
Regardless of your personal situation, there is someone out there who is getting seriously offended by your ‘jokes’.
Every day on my Facebook feed, I come across at least one suicidal meme that has been shared and liked by thousands of teenagers active on networking sites across the world.
Given the stats, in 2015, 3,027 people ended their own lives in Australia. That’s 12.6 in every 100,000. And we are still making jokes. Intentional self-harm is the 13th highest cause of death in Australia according to The Australian Bureau of Statistics. Yet, somehow it is still accepted to laugh about mental health?!
We should NEVER joke about suicide, you never know who is around you. Think about who you could be hurting.
From the research I did, got me thinking…
So, I decided to do some investigating on different opinions upon the circumstances in a survey I created.
I asked teenagers on Facebook and Twitter the following questions…
It’s a close call, sitting on 47.8% as ‘sometimes’ and 45.7% as ‘every day’. EVERY DAY. These memes are popping up on users’ timelines on a daily basis. Something is not right here. These results suggest the popularity of such memes in our generation and community, with only 6.5% of responders telling us they never see suicide memes. Thus, this percentage needs to increase significantly to improve the lives of teenagers and others, and to bring back the importance of suicide amongst teenagers.
Currently, 50% of social media users who completed my survey are ‘sometimes’ making suicidal jokes, and 10.9% do it EVERY DAY! I also asked them to tell me any jokes they have said or heard, and the responses were just awful, things you can’t imagine saying out loud. However, it is hopeful to see that 39.1% never make jokes about mental health’s.
In this public sphere we live in, there is constantly an ongoing debate whether suicide can be joked about or not. When asking this question, gave the same outcome:
Publics also mentioned that it additionally falls under just ‘having a laugh’. Responders believe that people shouldn’t take these statements “so literally because they don’t actually mean it”. Others say they “highly doubt any of the jokes are serious!”.
It is evident to me that individuals don’t understand the significance and precautions of suicide.
Though, a responder points out that it’s
“Socially constructed in this generation as a joke, however, those that may suffer depression could be sending messages about how they are feeling as a way of reaching out”.
I am confronted with numerous answers that target why suicide memes are NOT okay.
This brings great hope to me when writing this, knowing that some communities understand the issue we are facing.
There are people who struggle daily with suicidal tendencies and things need to change. Responses suggest that even individuals with real depression may be joking about suicide because “it masks their true feelings” and “some would make jokes so they wouldn’t get caught out on the reality of it all”. What’s really not funny about the jokes is how serious they are.
The internet content always has an enormous audience. Internet trends emerge so rapidly on a global level that has the potential to appear on anyone’s media platform. The term ‘meme’ named by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976, continues to adapt with demands of media consumers, spreading globally to fulfil cultural needs.
According to Patrick Davison, “an internet meme is a piece of culture, typically a joke, which gains influence through online transmission.”
The online communication in this generation has impacted the connotation of meme, generating jokes on severe topics. Memes have been mass adopted for the internet age and spread online.
Suicide memes have trivialised suicide and has become a social norm in many communities online. It is all fun and games, until suicide gets involved. It is offensive and could trigger any one at any time. It is never something to joke about.
I truly hope the majority of media, as a society, consider altering their humour into a less serious light.
We need to encourage suicidal individuals to seek help, rather than disheartening them through joking about serious matters and making them think their situation doesn’t matter.