On May 19, a blogger for xoJane.com named Amanda Lauren published an article entitled, "My Former Friend's Death Was a Blessing." The only thing more ill-advised than that click-bait title was the subtitle, "Some people are so sick, they are beyond help." The article caused such an uproar, the website took it down a day later and published a formal apology in its place. Penned by Jane, the website's head editor and namesake, reads:
"I apologize for an article that was posted here yesterday, entitled 'My Former Friend's Death Was a Blessing.' I deeply regret the hurt that this article has caused and understand that it has perpetuated stigma and diminished the lives of people with mental illness. I am committed to immediately reviewing our vetting process to ensure that this experience has a positive influence on the ways in which we at xoJane present all women going forward. I appreciate all of you who took the time to let us know how you felt about this issue."
There have been countless responses to the article, so I think I'll try something different. This is a reminder and a plea, to any and all who are reading that are going through something like "Leah" did. Please, please, please do not take this article seriously.
Jane was right when she said this article perpetuated stigma. It is dangerous and ridiculous that people still think there is an expiration date on treating mental health issues. It is even more dangerous that we not just believe that stigma, but actively practice it. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers, thanks to stigmas like this in place.
By writing this article, Lauren, who is no stranger to
being wrong controversy in the past, has also succeeded in diminishing the lives of people with mental illness, as the apology states. It is entirely wrong to label a person by the inner demons they fight every day. It is wrong to completely ignore a person's attributes, personality and achievements, strictly because of something they suffer from.
I didn't know "Leah" personally, but I can only imagine how horrified her family is after reading something as negative and oblivious as what Lauren had written. To have to A. Go through the death of your daughter again. And B. Have someone who was, according to her, a friend of hers at one time pour salt on the reopened wound, must be devastating.
This leads me back to those reading who may be going through the same thing as "Leah." Please listen very carefully:
You are here for a reason. You have gone through so much to be here. You are never too far gone to be helped. No matter what you're going through, no matter what you're feeling, there is always someone there who can help you. Just because someone with a blog doesn't understand doesn't mean that someone with the actual power to help you doesn't. You are important. You are strong. You will not fight alone, and you will not lose.
If you feel like suicide is an option for you, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255. Someone is there 24/7 to answer your call and help you.
If you know someone who is depressed or struggling, please help them. Even if they say you can't help them, just knowing you're there for them will mean something.
If you're a parent of a child with depression, it's vital that you know the signs. Click here to learn more about depression in teens.
Amanda Lauren has written something clueless and hurtful, but remember; it's still clueless. Amanda Lauren does not represent the way everyone thinks about mental illness. There is still someone who can help you, because you are never beyond help.