At this point, everyone is familiar with the situation that happened regarding Logan Paul and his YouTube channel in the “Suicide Forest.” His actions were incredibly distasteful, but they were also dangerous.
Exposure to suicide can increase the risk of suicidal behavior for vulnerable people, like those with mental illness or substance use disorders. Suicidal behavior, mental illness, and substance use disorders can all be treated and managed, but those who experience them may feel hopeless. So being exposed to suicide, whether directly (a friend or family member’s suicide, for example), or indirectly (like through media coverage) can influence the likelihood of attempts. Young adults are especially susceptible, and that is the majority of subscribers to Logan Paul’s YouTube channel.
Last year, the wildly popular show “13 Reasons Why” debuted on Netflix. The show, based on a young adult novel chronicles a young girl who commits suicide, and then leaves behind tapes detailing classmates that she felt caused this. CNN reported that searches for “how to commit suicide” rose 26% above the normal rate. Mental health experts describe the show as worrisome and point to how its relatable characters and graphic depiction of suicide can pose a health risk for young people already struggling with mental health issues.
While discussing suicide prevention and awareness in the mainstream media is incredibly important, there is a fine between promoting prevention, and sensationalizing and promoting the act of suicide. As a culture, we need to be wary of how we discuss this. Our youth are watching.