“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.”
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.
I can’t believe these are being sold and why anyone would want one. Sick people who think these are funny, they need to walk a mile in someones shoes who is struggling with a Mental Illness and learn what it is like.
Come on Amazon get your act together and stop selling these, don’t be a part of the problem be a part of the solution. Having lost my 17 year old son Shayne to suicide this angers me so much.
I’m sorry to hear about your loss Mel. I can empathize, I lost my son to depression (19 YO) so this got my anger up in a big way as well.
If these were products making fun of ISIS beheadings, everyone would be losing their minds and calling for the resignation of Amazon’s CEO. Sadly, mental health is still seen as a feeling or something one can just “get over” and not a disease, despite the fact that so many kids are choosing to take their own lives. These products further stigmatize mental health and serves to further alienate those suffering in silence.
I lost my son to suicide in October this year also due to depression. I too will boycott Amazon until appropriate action taken by them. How sad and how insensitive.
I’m sorry for your loss, Gillian. Funny that many of the manufacturers of these products, like Knick Knack Gifts, don’t sell the products in question on their own sites but use Amazon as a clearing house for them. There is too much at stake to allow businesses to contribute to the stigma that keeps our kids from asking for help/talking about the illness.
How absolutely horrible! I haven’t lost anyone to suicide but that doesn’t even matter. This is still deplorable.
Yes, it is. Our efforts to raise awareness – along with those of others – seem to be effective as a few products have been removed. The fight goes on.
I’ve contacted Amazon regarding this filth. It’s being taken care.
I’m terribly sorry for your losses. Mentalet illness is nothing to joke about.
Thank you for your support.
Thank you for sharing this. I have also lost a loved one to suicide, and I find both of these items deeply offensive, disrespectful, and extremely hurtful. I have also directly contacted Amazon.ca by both telephone and email, as well as shared several posts on both Facebook and Twitter. Those of us who can do something, must speak up for those who can’t.
I’m sorry for your loss, Cindy. Thank you for the support.
My name is Rondi. In my lifetime I have had over 13 suicide attempts. I now speak openly and honestly about how being suicidal has affected my life. Seeing products like this disgust me!! These products are giving a clear message that you don’t matter to the world. Such bullsh*t! Suicide is not a joke, and it affects many lives.I learned the tools and skills that helped me to live my life. I went back to school for Social Work and I now work in the mental health field. If you are reading this, and possibly feeling like giving up, PLEASE tell someone how you are feeling, because however you are feeling is OKAY. Your feelings and thoughts can not hurt you, your actions however can.