“I’m going to kill myself.” A jarring phrase to hear at 10 a.m. in the dining hall on a Tuesday, but despite the intensity of these words most college students would brush this phrase off as a normal thing, perhaps recalling when they themselves have said it. Why is making jokes about suicide considered normal and acceptable?
It is no secret that mental health among college students has been on the decline in recent years. Despite efforts, Furman University students are still dealing with a huge amount of stress from schoolwork, jobs, and extracurriculars. Although the conversation around mental health has become a much more open topic, we still continue to undermine serious illnesses through humor.
Most of the time jokes about killing oneself are made in response to failing a test, having too much homework, or other minor inconveniences. When we make jokes about committing suicide in response to small problems, it trains our brain into believing that suicide is an answer to these issues. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, making suicide jokes (including kms, kill me now etc.) can be an early warning sign for suicidal youths.
Many claim that this kind of humor is “just the way of Gen Z” or is a coping mechanism for their mental illness. However, if we do not recognize that joking about killing oneself can be a result of a serious underlying issue, we could lose more fellow students and friends to suicide. Recognizing this is much more important than trying to get a cheap laugh or making light of suicide.
So, how can we make Furman’s campus more aware and alert to these jokes, as well as increase awareness of early warning signs of suicidal thoughts? Visiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website is a great place to start. Another way to get these jokes off our campus is to start with oneself; ask yourself if you have been making these jokes and is there a deeper reason you have been making them. Checking in on friends and making sure they are okay and that they understand how these jokes can be interpreted is a small gesture that can mean a lot.
The Furman student body and community as a whole need to make a greater effort in ending these jokes and opening a respectful dialogue around suicide.
Campus Resources: https://www.furman.edu/counseling-center/
On Demand Mental Health and Crisis Support: Call 864-294-3031
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, https://afsp.org
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call toll-free at 1-800-273-8255.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Warning Signs https://afsp.org/risk-factors-protective-factors-and-warning-signs#warning-signs