Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide as a topic
I have discussed recently why we use trigger warnings, what triggers are in terms of mental health conditions and how they essentially are a warning cry so that the reader or viewer are given the option to back away slowly or proceed forwards cautiously.
But another issue along these lines has begun to appear in my line of vision. This topic is, of course, censorship.
The question I wish to raise is one of moral dilemmas, ethics and common courtesy. When are we required, if not expected, to censor ourselves of our voices in order to help the common good? How do we create places of safety and security that we ourselves can be contained in while also helping to contain others? And, maybe more importantly, is this truly censorship in its rawest form?
Suicide, for instance is a hot potato topic. It is still highly stigmatized along with mental health in general. Many people have many opinions about suicide: from the final act of it, to religion, to health, to safety, on and on. A huge part of the issue is that it is not something we talk about in our society–or really any society. It is still very taboo which grinds my gears to no possible end because if we consider suicidality on a spectrum where to the left people refuse to acknowledge its existence and to the right people are fixated and obsessed with it, it probably should come as no surprise that I land on the far right. Part of my new goals in therapy is to shimmy my way back to the middle ground. However, my question still stands: if we choose to talk about it, we run into this issue of what feels like censorship.
It is expected, for an understandable reason, to not discuss or present specific suicide methods. These are the same guidelines that the National Alliance on Mental Illness uses in their In Our Own Voice presentations. It is also the same guidelines that the media is expected to report to by the American Association on Suicidology when discussing someone who has passed away due to suicide: do not mention specific methods so as not to accrue copycat suicides.
The places where you *can* discuss nitty gritty details include individual therapy, a crisis team, the emergency department, a psychiatric hospital, and a hotline. The places you should *not* (but that people may do anyways) include group programs, the Internet, group meetings, articles, and films/television.
For instance, I want to write a fiction-based novel in which the entirety of the story takes place in the afterlife. I want my main character, Noah, as originally thought of by my brain seven years ago, to struggle with his own suicidality and to come to terms with his premature death in his afterlife journey of self-discovery, determination, persistence and identity on what it means to lead a life worth living. I brought up the idea in therapy and it was June who brought to light her dismay at the idea of me being descriptive of the act of his suicide.
But having brought up this plot line to my therapists made for an interesting and important distinction that is at the heart of this article. June told me if I were to be descriptive of a suicide in my novel, that people would hone in on the suicide parts and lose the rest of the message. I have had experience with that happening this semester. My main therapist, April, suggested that I be preventative to not only myself for having to write on the topic but to my audience as well. I cannot control what other authors have expressed before yet I can control what I do. I would have a trigger warning in my novel and I have decided that putting my audience through a secondhand suicide is not the kind of route I want to go, because I have been the reader in that type of plot before and it really, really sucks.
So, is it censorship, really? I think not, it is simply a new behavior that is preventive, leading by example and protecting myself and those around me to the best of my ability. In my novel I wish to discuss the complexities of suicide and possibly that of mental health awareness because it is important to talk about these issues when it is with the appropriate person and appropriate setting.
Adapting to this new behavior took me a couple of weeks, a lot of re-working this article and ongoing consideration to alter one of my ongoing fan fiction stories that covers a more explicit suicide scene. In the end, it is my choice how I decide to portray a dark subject matter and it is something only I have complete control over.
Be careful out there.
This article took a LOT of revising and finalllllly I’m done with it! Written in part March 16th 2018 and April 2nd 2018. Shhhh, Mom you didn’t see this and I’m totes doing my homework! 😉
Thank you for reading!! And yes, the fanfic I’m referencing here is “Distorted & Disordered” one I don’t flaunt so much on my blog because it’s dark for the first 20 chapters, and also, “Severed” is going to feature some suicidality a little bit but not graphically and I have to write a proper blog post very, very soon! Yay Monday? XD
Hope you enjoyed and stay safe, peeps!! ❤ ❤ ❤
PS Yes, you’re getting more sneak peeks into my “novel” idea 😉