A Look into Copycat Suicides

Trigger Warning: Mentions of Suicide and Self-harm

We might have probably heard of the word ‘copycat’ for the first time in the playground. This childish word being associated with a deathly term ‘suicide’ calls for a serious understanding. To briefly explain, A person is said to attempt copycat suicide if he is influenced by the same method of suicide as a famous star/celebrity. 

Many cases of suicides could’ve been prevented with the right kind of support offered at the right time. But several psychological factors like stress or peer pressure lead people to take decisions that lead to self-harm. In addition, when a person reads about suicidal news glorified by the media, it is likely to trigger suicidal thoughts in his mind at their lowest moments. Studies suggest that the rate of suicides has increased whenever a celebrity has committed suicide.

An example of this phenomenon is that of Marilyn Monroe, who died by suicide in 1962 and the suicide attempt rate increased by 12 per cent. But in the case of the Nirvana lead singer, Kurt Cobain in 1994, the media made an effort for a restricting report and it saw a decrease in the rate and increase in the helpline calls. Another case was in 2014 when the Oscar-winning star of “Good Morning, Vietnam”, Robert Williams, died of asphyxia (suffocation) after hanging himself at his home. Following this, it was found that there was a 32 per cent increase in the number of deaths from suffocation and a doubling in the number of calls received by the suicide prevention lifeline. The research also suggested that this was mainly because media amplified the news by providing even the smallest of details. A very recent example is of the controversial Netflix series ’13 reasons why’. An analysis of internet search said that in the 19 days after the series got aired in 2017, the search for the term ‘suicide’ rose by 20 per cent. 

It is very important to understand how a person’s attitude can change after a famous star’s death. they may start considering it to be a way out of all his problems and It is unfortunate that media doesn’t take enough care to report the news with delicacy and explicit warnings. Media is one of the most powerful weapons of democracy and it also has the power to influence imitation suicides, if it doesn’t follow the laid guidelines to report suicidal news. It shouldn’t be exaggerating their deaths. It is also on our part to not get moved by such news and call the suicide prevention lifeline even if we have the slightest idea to do so. There is surely a way out of every problem. Depression is a fight that can be won with the right support and self-belief. with determination and will power. Life is full of obstacles, but no such obstacle has the power to end life. Even if we don’t get what we deserve, we must learn to stand alone and fight it out, instead of harming ourselves. Do reach out for help, there is nothing more important than your mental well-being. 

 

Not Alone: Coming to terms with my Mental Health [Trigger Warning]

Trigger warning: skin peeling, mentions of self-harm, nightmares and grief

Think about this for a solid minute.

“You’re 16. What problems you’d possibly have to suffer depression?” ” You are simply over thinking” “You’ll get over it” “There’s no such thing as depression, it’s just a phase”.

Sound familiar?

You see, depression is a very personal feeling. I might be sitting right next to you, joking around about the memes you’ve shared with me or having a very deep conversation about life and the purpose of it or maybe just sitting there, hanging out with you and yet, you will have no idea of the things that go on inside my head.

For almost a year, I slept only around 3 AM. And even then, I would experience nightmares where this soul of mine would be pleading, crying my name out really loud in the darkness; most of the times in the middle thick dark woods. Walking with my friends in school, I’d feel like someone was choking me, trying to push me down and drown me. I used to hysterically cry and begin to laugh very loudly just like a baby, locking myself in my room. I’d cry all night, not knowing why.

This became worse when one night I became downright delirious, trying to make the pain go away, trying to hurt myself while also rubbing my chest to calm myself down. Physically, I had developed so much acne, a very irregular menstrual cycle and a weak immune system. And yes, I even periodically suffered strokes. I’d bite my lips, nails, keep peeling my skin.

What made me such a monster in my own eyes?

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[Image source: Gemma Correll]

I’d say the fear of losing my identity that involves this image that I’ve built for myself.  We are not perfect and we will never be. All of us have our own flaws and we learn and grow through our experiences in this journey of life. And it is necessary to go through these experiences in order to learn from them. But never be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

We all are very familiar with motivational quotes, “This too shall pass” “Love yourself” “I’m proud of you” do the rounds on social media all the time. But just saying them out loud isn’t enough. Start small, get help if you feel like you can’t make through this journey of acceptance alone. For me, the fact that I wake up ALIVE every morning, the fact that I’m able to still breathe and body is functioning, is something to be grateful for; granting me another day.  The little things, the journey. I accepted.

After the longest time, I saw myself in the mirror and smiled for once.

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The fact that I’ve been gifted time, ability to take another chance at people and perspectives made me understand that things will start working out, at least someday. Healing can NEVER happen overnight, it is a long road, it’s every single moment you live.

And slowly but surely, you will get better. In fact, it’ll be revolutionary when you wake up one day and can actually feel light enough to pull yourself out of your own bed. There will be struggles and relapses, but there will also be support and love and kindness.

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Depression isn’t directly proportional to your age group. Depression doesn’t know numbers, doesn’t know care about your sexual orientation or your bank balance. Never ever feel shy to accept this, you’re no less of a human being you deserve to be equally loved.

YOU MATTER. There’s Absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed of in acceptance.

More power to you.

Depression

I woke up today,
with an heart almost broken,
Bleeding tears through every crack left open,
My soul feels ice cold, and there’s voices in my head,
Silently screaming all at once,I don’t know if I’m alive or if I’m dead,

Everyday feels worse, I can’t keep my eyes open,
Everytime I shut them down, nightmares awaken,
I feel pain and I feel numb, paralyzed but shaken,
Hateful eyes spitting venom, my safe places all forsaken,

Will anybody miss me? Will anybody care?
Will they even notice when I’m no longer there?
I feel invisible, I’m choking on myself,
My mind feels claustrophobic like it’s crushing on itself,

It’s hard to go to bed, and It’s hard to wake up,
Like a dog without his bone, I feel lost and all alone,
I want somebody to know, I want somebody to care,
But I’m too afraid being judged, when I leave my feelings bare,

All my tears feel like acid, My voice is always broken,
I just want to see, a Human Being being human.

Just another cut, Just another scratch,
“What’s that little mark?” “No, that was just my cat”
Just another excuse, Just another lie,
“You wear bracelets now?” “Just fashion, why?”
Just another tear, Just another scream,
“Vishal, were you crying?” “No, Just had a bad dream”
It’s not just a cut, or a tear or a lie,
It’s always just one more, till the day that I die.

– Vishal Muralidharan