Of Keyboard Warriors and Mental Health Skeptics

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It was my sister’s 19th birthday and my family and I were having dinner when Facebook was going crazy with my friends posting status updates after status updates about mental health and suicide. I didn’t know what was happening at that time but when a friend messaged me about what I felt upon hearing the news, I found myself dumbfounded. “What news?” I asked. It was after a few notification pings when my friend messaged me “SOMEONE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE AT A MALL” – the message accompanied by a link to a Facebook status update post by a local radio news network.

And then it hit me – a cold wave of sadness. Someone from my city had attempted to kill himself. A day after I had organized and held a mental health awareness symposium at a local high school. I clicked on the link and read that the person who had attempted to end his life is someone belonging to the LGBT community and is only 17 years old. It was heartbreaking to hear someone as young as 17 wanted to commit suicide. I was relieved to have read that he was alive but after calming myself I became frustrated at what some keyboard warriors have been commenting online.

The Keyboard Warriors – the people who use their computers as their armour and their keyboard as their swords. Most of these warriors usually put up with the bandwagon of ‘what’s trending’

The Mental Health Skeptics – these are the ones who just simply don’t believe in mental illnesses. These people are either traditionalists, apathetic, or maybe a hybrid of both; Some are just simply non-believers of the issue.

One person commented: “This guy only wanted attention because if he did want to end his life he’d want to jump from a higher floor and not just the third floor of the mall.”

Another one was more concerned about the mall being a “suicide mall” since a foreigner once jumped off from the third floor of the same building last year; Another comment said “It’s only the first day of February – how many more will do the same on the 14th?”

Someone had also commented: “The guy became a nuisance to the mall-goers who were out shopping and eating. It could be a traumatizing experience for those people.” Another mentioned that his family will be struggling even more because of the accident.

A few other comments  also included that the kid only needed God and how he had the option not to jump. People had also voiced out their concern about the choice of hospital where the kid was taken to.

A girl who had witnessed the accident even caught it on Snapchat and had posted it with the caption which translated to “falling down down down”

Oh how I wanted to scream.

Going back to the kid, I really feel for him. What if he wakes up and see all those nasty comments? He’d feel even worse than he already is about himself. It was nice to see some people show empathy for that kid and his family. That kid needs to know at how loved he is.  No matter what was his reason was, it doesn’t matter because the important thing is he got a second chance to live again.

Having stopped reading those comments, I immediately thought about how people in this world lack compassion – worse – education on mental health. People in my city usually associate mental illness with being crazy. As a project proponent for a mental health awareness campaign, I felt terrible – like I hadn’t done my part to let people know the value of mental health education.People still are a little hard-headed with regards to this issue thinking that being depressed is ‘just a phase’ or how depression or being suicidal is not as bad as having a chronic illness.

We somehow end up blaming other people for the stigma. We blame the people who have no idea or first hand experience what’s it like to have anxiety or know someone who’s depressed. We blame the media or romanticizing suicide, we blame the people who are mentally ill, we blame our friends who make bad suicide jokes. Who else can we blame? The government? Society? Ourselves, even?

I strongly believe that we should change if not end the stigma. A little action can really help. I’m currently in the process of my campaign towards mental health among high school students. I hope that I could make an impact on other people’s lives and that it will lead to a better and safer environment for everyone.

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