“Amazon Contributes to Stigma Surrounding Mental Health”

It’s the opposite headline from that which we would expect to be seeing about a large corporation today; with so many organizations like Bell Canada going out of their way to help reduce the stigma associated with mental health, amazon.com seems to be moving the opposite direction.

The corporate giant has allowed a series of products with slogans that poke fun at suicide, which are incredibly insensitive at best and downright irresponsible at worst, to be listed on its website. The slogan “Got Suicide,” a play on the famous “Got Milk” campaign, is used on a variety of products from water bottles (by Knick Knack Gifts) to coffee mugs to sweatshirts. The second is a t-shirt (by T Shirt Village) depicting someone taking their life with another watching and eating popcorn. The caption is “suicide watch.”

Amazon Contributes to Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Screen Capture from Amazon’s Site

Amazon Contributes to Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Screen Capture From Amazon’s Site

Disclaimer: I’m particularly sensitive to this topic as I lost my son to depression last year as well as number of friends over the years; however, the promotion and sale of these products should be disgusting to anyone with a heart and conscious.

That said, even kids with warped senses of humour must see how irresponsible and hateful these are? My issue is not with the right to produce such products but with the corporation’s choice to add the product to its shelves.

While it’s not our policy here at The Friendship Bench to call out businesses, this lack of sensitivity to our community and display of irresponsibility cannot go unchecked.  On behalf of all the suffering kids that we support every day along with our partner schools, The Friendship Bench has started an online petition that will attempt to show Amazon that making a profit by perpetrating the stigma and promoting suicide is not acceptable in our society. If you agree, please support us here. 

Fighting the Stigma

Studies report that more than 50% of people who suffer with depression do so in silence, neither sharing their pain with family or friends nor seeking help from a professional. This is particularly alarming when one considers the fact that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among students and young adults.

The mental health crisis on campuses across the world continues to grow and the stigma and ignorance that surrounds the disease keeps more people silent, ashamed or too embarrassed to ask for help.

Making fun of mental illness is grossly inappropriate; beyond not being funny, it further alienates those who are suffering and increases the likelihood that they will not ask for help.

We must expect more from corporations. Yes, they’re a business, not an elected political official. However, as in politics, we have the right to have our say – with our wallets.

I am only one vote but I will cast that vote of disapproval  by boycotting your products until such time that you remove these products from your product selection. Further, I’ve requested that my publisher remove the book I’ve co-authored from your site. I encourage all of you interested to not purchase that book if it remains on the site nor any other product Amazon sells.

Shame on you Amazon.

UPDATE: To clarify, these products are manufactured/sold by other companies on Amazon’s e-commerce site. I’ve called out Amazon here because it’s their platform, not because they’ve designed the products or written the slogans. One such manufacturer is the UK company Starlite Shopping Mall. A copy of the petition will also be forwarded to them.



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