An Open Letter To XoJane About “My Former Friend’s Death Was a Blessing”

Dear XoJane,

We the undersigned are very disturbed by “My Former Friend’s Death Was a Blessing,”*** an article that exploits the suffering of the writer’s friend. It conveys an incredibly dangerous attitude towards people with mental illness and implies that their lives are not worth living. It is not hyperbole when we say that an essay like this could be the trigger that incites someone with suicidal ideation to go through with an attempt at ending their life. Even if it does not reach that point, this piece reinforces the stigma around mental illness that keeps many people from seeking the help they need to live happy, fulfilling lives. That you published this irresponsible piece during Mental Health Awareness Month is the ultimate insult.

Many of us have written for XoJane in the past, but we will no longer submit pitches to your publication as long as you prioritize clicks over compassion. Some of us have never written for XoJane and will not pitch going forward because it would be professionally damaging to have our work associated with a site that couches toxic, journalistically irresponsible articles as simply “unpopular opinions.”

We urge you to take down the essay, which will minimize additional harm to readers struggling with mental health issues personally and among people they love. Clickbait is an unfortunate reality in this industry, but there are some lines that cannot be crossed without sacrificing your institutional integrity. Doing active harm to suicidal readers is one of those lines. We also encourage you to publish a follow-up roundtable discussion with writers who have mental health issues and/or who are experts in suicide prevention.

Sincerely,

Contributors to this letter:

Melissa McEwen (past contributor)
Marissa Miller (past contributor, but I want my posts taken down immediately.)
Jodie Layne (past contributor)
Alicia Thompson (never contributed, never will with this kind of content)
Jennifer L. Pozner, Women In Media & News (will encourage all the writers in WIMN’s network not to pitch unless and until this essay is taken down)
Kitty Stryker (past contributor)
Laura Kiesel (never contributed, never will)
Amy McCarthy (past contributor) 
Elizabeth DeHoff (never contributed, never will)
Kyla Cathey (never contributed, never will, and I won’t be reading XoJane going forward either)
Laurel Hermanson (never contributed, never will, won’t read xoJane ever again)
Shannon Luders-Manuel (past contributor)
Natalie Cherot (never contributed)
Lynn Brown (never contributed)
Stephanie Seery-Murphy (never contributed)
Chryselle D’Silva Dias (never contributed, never will, #boycottxojane )
Margaret Corvid (past contributor)
Amelia Shroyer (tried to contribute in the past and was ghosted by the editors, would never contribute now)
Nicole DeSmet (I’m a writer fighting depression. This piece needs a rebuttal. It also needs information for the national suicide hotline put up in it’s place. I can’t tell you how terrible it is to read that I’d be better off dead. No, you may not use my words here in any piece about this topic without my permission)
Sayzie Koldys 
Mechi Estevez (never contributed, never will, won’t read again)
Alison Kinney (never contributed, never will, won’t read again)
Francesca Lewis (past contributor and former reader)

Interested in signing this? Sign here. See the current signatures here(data).

  • ** Archive.is is a snapshot of the page and so should not be counted as “hits” but obviously huge trigger warning on the content
Just wanted to quickly add that if xojane’s horrible article has caused an increase in suicidal thoughts in anyone, please avail yourself to either the Suicide Prevention Line (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/), or a similar hotline in your country (resource: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html) or the Trevor Project if you are an LGBT youth in crisis (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/) or the Trans Lifeline (http://www.translifeline.org/) or just dial 9–1–1 if you’re afraid you’re going to hurt yourself. Please, please, please. — Kiva Bay

Update

XoJane has taken the article down and posted an apology

I apologize for an article that was posted here yesterday, entitled “My Former Friend’s Death Was a Blessing.” I deeply regret the hurt that this article has caused and understand that it has perpetuated stigma and diminished the lives of people with mental illness. I am committed to immediately reviewing our vetting process to ensure that this experience has a positive influence on the ways in which we at xoJane present all women going forward. I appreciate all of you who took the time to let us know how you felt about this issue.

Other Responses

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