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Common slang terms that minimize the mental health issue

Emmett Twomey, Features Editor

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How many times have you said something, and then immediately wished you could have taken it back? The truth is, almost everyone has spoken some pretty awful words at one point or another. And no matter the severity of the words, they impact everyone around them in some way. In American society today, teenagers in particular have a bad habit of using certain hyperbolic slang to describe their emotions. Take a bad test, for example. If a teen receives a poor score on an important test, they might potentially say something along the lines of “That test was horrible, I want to die” or quite possibly “I don’t want to write that paper, kill me please.” Of course, what they said was overexaggeration, but even the fact that these words pop into their mind reminds us that American society as a whole sometimes inadvertently minimizes the issue of mental health, especially when relating to suicide.

People who struggle with suicidal tendencies may feel as though there is no relief for them. They don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. They see anything as better than their current situation. Often, they no longer want to participate in life and the activities they once loved. According to the American Psychological Association, those with suicidal tendencies may feel as though there is no hope for the future or nothing will ever change (www.apa.org). But why, when we endure something minor like a bad test grade, do we say something as uninformed as joking about committing suicide?

It’s too easy to ignorantly use far too casual language when talking about suicide, especially if a person hasn’t lost a loved one or friend to it. According to the American Psychological Association, the combination of balancing schoolwork,extracurricular, and social life leaves teenagers as the most stressed individuals of our time (www.apa.org). When talking to friends about how much homework and work one may have, saying they want to kill themselves seems like an easy option to deal with all the stress that’s present.

Embarrassment can also be a factor that leads teenagers to use casual expressions that evoke suicide. A presentation in which one stutters or forgets a part of their speech or messing up in front of a public audience can lead the teen to say things such as “I can’t believe that happened, I want to die.” Stressful situations, like being stockpiled with homework and having to go to extracurriculars can be stressful; when driving home after a long night at school for activities, junior Paul Sotiros admits that he once jokingly said, “I just want to drive myself right into the lake.”

Teens don’t often think about the impact they are creating when they use casual slang that makes light of death or mental health issues. When they do so, they may be inadvertently contributing to the ever-present problem of minimizing mental health struggles. Of course, nobody should be blamed for any suicide that has ever happened. However, they also aren’t positively contributing to raising awareness of suicide by joking about it. By saying one might jokingly want to kill themselves in such a minor situation as a bad grade, that person is spreading the idea that suicide isn’t a huge deal. That thought isn’t true at all, because suicide is not a simple solution. However, it is not too late to make amends.

The next time you may catch yourself using language that minimizes mental health, all it would take is to think and assess if that joke or response fits the current situation. This is the first step to raising awareness about suicide and not minimizing it by using it as slang or just a casual exclamation.

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Common slang terms that minimize the mental health issue