• Rachel Paige

Your Jokes Aren't Funny

I’m not talking about social anxiety this week. I’m talking about suicide jokes. I know it’s not the “official” topic of this blog, but it’s been weighing on my heart lately.

Someone I know, we’ll call him Adam, makes a lot of jokes. Several weeks ago, he made a joke I didn’t understand, then asked why I didn’t laugh. I told him I didn’t get it. He then made a comment about how he was offended and going to commit suicide.

I didn’t laugh. I left the room.

Several days ago, someone else, we’ll call her Maddie, was complaining about how long her shift was and how she’d rather kill herself than work the whole thing. Adam said, “I think everyone wants to kill themselves.” Maddie agreed and they laughed.

I didn’t laugh. I left the room.

Someone I work with, we’ll call her Sarah, loves memes. She especially likes the one with Kermit the frog captioned “I’m going to Kermit suicide.” Several months ago, every time something slightly inconvenient happened, she’d quote the meme and laugh.

I didn’t laugh. I left the room.

When I was a sophomore in high school, there was a kid in my English class who seemed to think we were friends. Every time a big assignment was announced, he’d look right at me and mimic shooting himself in the head.

I didn’t laugh. Someone in that class committed suicide later that year.

He continued to make the joke. He still thought he was funny.

He wasn’t. Sarah wasn’t. Maddie wasn’t. Adam wasn’t. Suicide isn’t funny.

I wasn’t laughing when someone I love ended up in the hospital for swallowing a bottle of pills. I wasn’t laughing when someone else I love left a note and wanted everything to be over. I wasn’t laughing when yet another person I love bought a gun.

I wasn’t laughing when I wrote my own note. I wasn’t laughing when I had a plan. I wasn’t laughing when my older sister physically stopped me before I could do anything I’d regret. I was screaming. I was crying. I was hitting her and kicking her and yelling that I hated her.

She wasn’t laughing either. She was holding onto me even though I was hurting her. She was doing everything she could to keep me safe. She slept on a sleeping bag outside my bedroom door the rest of the night.

So when someone makes a suicide joke, or posts a meme with one, I don’t laugh. I don’t think it’s funny. I think about the days people I loved tried it. I think about how close I got to trying. I think about the empty seat in my high school English class.

Joking about suicide makes it less likely people who are thinking about it will tell anyone. It makes it less likely that people will take claims seriously. It turns a serious issue into a way to get a few laughs or likes on social media.

We live in a culture in which suicide jokes are the norm. That doesn’t mean they’re okay.

Your jokes aren’t funny.

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