XOJane Article Aims To Prevent Suicide By Calling It ‘Messy,’ Cinnamon Bun-Less
12:30 pm, March 19th | by Laura Donovan
Many of you know firsthand that it’s easy to enjoy a publication but disagree with some of its content. That’s how I feel about XOJane, an inviting women’s site that recently published a tongue-and-cheek article titled, “5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Kill Yourself.” Though the piece is meant to present a serious issue in a light-hearted manner to create solidarity, its flippant approach to suicide comes across as insensitive regardless of the fact that the columnist has battled suicidal thoughts herself.
The writer, Sara Benincasa, is familiar with depression and even penned a book about suicide contemplation, which is why her reasoning against ending one’s life is all the more offensive:
1. It’s messy. Regardless of how you go, you’re going to leave a body for other people to clean up. Dead bodies are gross. Did you know that some people let poop out when they die? It’s true. I mean, not on purpose or anything. It’s something to do with the bowels relaxing.
I wouldn’t be surprised if she wrote a follow-up piece titled, “If You’re Going To Off Yourself, Don’t Eat Anything Two Days Prior So You Won’t Die In Your Own Waste.” There are plenty of other things going through someone’s mind when he/she sees the body of a loved one, and digestion disgust is nowhere to be found.
This next justification, however, may be worse:
3. Dead people don’t get to eat cinnamon buns. They also don’t get to do my other favorite things, like live-Tweet presidential debates, re-read “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” hold newborn babies with squinched-up little red faces, talk politics with their dads, walk in the woods on a warm autumn day, eat their brother’s excellent apple butter chicken, or fall asleep in a soft bed after a long day of walking.
This of course symbolizes all the things a person misses out on when dead, but centering the paragraph on cinnamon buns once again takes too nonchalant an approach on something that affects thousands of U.S. citizens.
Reason number four explains that suicide is “cliché, and you are not a cliché” but goes on to remind readers that we “deserve a better ending than anything [we] could bring upon [ourselves].” This is actually a meaningful argument, yet its title undermines the value of staying alive.
The only valid reason on the list is number two, which states that “Other people need you.” You’d think this would entail living so as not to devastate one’s family members of friends, but Benincasa is talking about calling friends in the aftermath of breakups so they have a shoulder to weep on:
“During my big crying festival, I remembered that my friend had just broken up with her boyfriend and I hadn’t called to do a post-game recap about it yet. I knew it would really help her to get to let it all out with me. And while I wasn’t in the shape to deal with it at that particular moment, I figured I ought to stick around long enough to let the tears pass and get into a headspace where I could chat with her.”
More power to this article if it can truly stop at least one person from committing suicide, and there’s definitely a place for humor in the discussion, but a few more lines on the seriousness of the issue and importance of pushing through difficult times would have strengthened the piece’s “don’t do it” message.