If I was to write that I wanted to kill myself in the school paper, I would raise some red flags.
I'd probably get a few calls from the Center for Cura Personalis, and my parents would be informed, right? So why is it if I write it in here I am a potential danger to myself, but if I say it aloud while complaining about my homework, it's a perfectly normal and adjusted thing to do?
In the midst of midterms, projects and finals week slowly approaching, Gonzaga students have begrudgingly accepted their fates. The next few weeks will be overwhelming. But with overwhelmed, overachieving students comes a negative symptom of our generation, the far too common trend that has become indicted in
Generation Z culture: the establishment of suicide jokes in our everyday speak.
Whenever something goes wrong — a test is failed, a professor packs on too much homework or students have four tests in the same week, you are quick to hear comments about wanting to die mere seconds following the complaint.
You can hear it around the entire campus, the “I want to die,” “I’m going to kill myself,” the “maybe I should just end it all” comments. These jokes are perceived as funny, and we all laugh and say “Dude, same,” because that’s what you do in a time when social media glorifies depression and anxiety as a fashion trend.
Today, saying that you want to kill yourself is the equivalent to saying you are overwhelmed, but what is not understood is the real harm this does to yourself. Joking about dying so casually numbs the severity of suicide to yourself and your peers, and makes it even harder to tell if that person is considering ending their life or is just tired and needs a nap.
We have gone numb to these jokes, claiming that it is just a coping mechanism to deal with stress, without realizing that our words are having a damaging impact on our psyches.
There is an idea known as mindful thinking — a concept built upon watching what you say and stopping yourself before you make hurtful comments like the aforementioned ones above.
Before making a suicide joke, you stop yourself and say how you actually feel. You do not want to die, you just want to take a nap. Or, if you do make the joke, you catch yourself making it, chide yourself for it and move on without calling attention to it.
After a couple of months of putting mindful thinking into practice myself, my friend from back home came to visit GU for a couple of days. Now, this friend and I have been close since freshman year of high school, bonding over mutual self-hatred and destructive behavior. Our entire vocabulary was depression-based.
We met in my apartment with some other friends during one of the days she visited and I heard my first, “I want to die” comment. I brushed it off until I heard another comment, and another, until I visibly winced at the types of things they were saying and were laughing at. I explained to them mindful thinking, about giving up jokes about wanting to stop living and how they should try it, possibly even give these jokes and comments up for Lent and see how they feel about them.
I was met with a hard “No,” and a “I’m just kidding, it’s funny.”
It is easy to become numb to our actions and the actions of our peers around us, but does that make it OK?
I call on anyone reading to pay attention to the things they are saying, to listen to the jokes your friends are making and ask yourself if that is an okay thing to be saying.
If you are struggling or know someone who is, please contact the Center for Cura Personalis at: 509-313-2227, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or the Regional Crisis Line: 1-877-266-1818.
Mila Yoch is a staff writer.