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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Academy’s R. Williams Tweet Not Pro Suicide



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I have often worried about the near-invisibility of suicide prevention in the public discourse. But this is one time in which I think those on the side virtue and true compassion got it wrong.

In the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide, the Academy of Motion Pictures sent out a Tweet. From the Variety story:

The tweet, sent out Monday at 5:56 p.m., shows the genie from the 1992 “Aladdin” with the message, “Genie, you’re free,” which is a line from the film. The item was retweeted more than 320,000 times and received a staggering 69 million impressions. The Internet and Twitter have been filled with tributes to Williams, who voiced the genie in the film.

That didn’t set well with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

However, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention worries about the subliminal message. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the AFSP, expressed concern about the tweet, telling the Washington Post Tuesday, “Suicide should never be presented as an option,” before adding, “(it) presents suicide in too celebratory a light.”

I think that’s a stretch..Cheap sentimentality in 140 or less characters, perhaps: That’s the bane of our times. But I don’t think the Tweet celebrates or glamorizes suicide.

If the American Foundation wants to do something valuable, how about a high-profile campaign against assisted suicide? That really pushes self destruction.

Alas, I have never seen the group oppose such blatant suicide promotion. Not only that, its web site is silent. Either that, or anti-euthanasia information is well hidden.  

So, in the face of real suicide celebration, all we get from the American Foundation is the sound of crickets. That’s known as dereliction of duty.



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