Singer Chris Brown shared an ignorant and stigmatizing tweet with the world on Tuesday, reportedly referring to R&B singer Kahlani’s recent hospitalization — the reasons for which are no one’s business beyond her own.
“There is no attempting suicide,” Brown wrote. “Stop flexing for the [Instagram]. Doing shit for sympathy so them comments under your pics don’t look so bad.”
By making such sweeping generalizations about what motivates people to consider suicide, Brown is perpetuating a tragic and dangerous myth that suicide attempts are cries for attention. This is not the case. Self-harm is a serious act that should never be taken lightly. Research shows that two thirds of people who die by suicide have expressed their intent before, according to Michigan State University.
As author Katie Hurley wrote in a HuffPost blog in 2014, mental illness is all-consuming and negative comments like these only cause greater damage:
Until you’ve stared down that level of depression, until you’ve lost your soul to a sea of emptiness and darkness… you don’t get to make those judgments. You might not understand it, and you are certainly entitled to your own feelings, but making those judgments and spreading that kind of negativity won’t help the next person. In fact, it will only hurt others.
More than 42,000 people died by suicide in 2014.
Nearly 25 percent of Americans will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their lives. And research shows stigma stands in the way of people with mental illness seeking treatment. That’s what makes comments like Brown’s so damaging: They perpetuate negative stereotypes that actually keep people from getting the help they need. The only way that’s going to change is if our culture starts openly addressing mental illness and mental health episodes with an attitude of compassion.
But a hateful tweet that spews out misconceptions about suicide? That seems like a cry for attention.
Brown’s reps did not return a request for comment from The Huffington Post.
If you — or someone you know — need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.