Thursday, June 14News That Matters

The Problem With Oprah's Message About the Recent Celebrity Suicides


In an interview with Extra at the premiere of her new TV show, she told an interviewer, “Every death is here to teach us how to live better. Every death is here to remind us of our own life and the value of it.”’ data-reactid=”23″>So Oprah said what I’m sure she thought was best. In an interview with Extra at the premiere of her new TV show, she told an interviewer, “Every death is here to teach us how to live better. Every death is here to remind us of our own life and the value of it.”

Here’s the full quote:

Every death, not just Anthony Bourdain, not just Kate Spade, not just people that who are famous and names that we know… every death is here to teach us how to live better. Every death is here to remind us of our own life and the value of it. So what will come of these deaths in sequence like this, the suicides, is a more open desire to talk about it. There are lots and lots of people who have not been forthcoming because they are ashamed still of talking about mental illness in their family and mental illness in people around them, but it is serious and it is real.

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What about the value of people who died by suicide’s lives? Why must their lives end for us to appreciate our own?

puts you at higher risk of attempting suicide. After Robin William’s death, the suicide rate spiked. As Shelly Lotz wrote in her piece, “Learning of Chester Bennington’s Suicide as Someone Who’s Been Suicidal“:’ data-reactid=”36″>Suicide loss survivors are on their own journey, and like any other traumatic experience, will learn things about themselves and the world along the way. But the assumption that people see value in their own life after a suicide doesn’t align with the facts — perhaps especially for people who struggle with suicidal thoughts themselves. Losing someone to suicide puts you at higher risk of attempting suicide. After Robin William’s death, the suicide rate spiked. As Shelly Lotz wrote in her piece, “Learning of Chester Bennington’s Suicide as Someone Who’s Been Suicidal“:

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I am very weary of my distant future, as a person with suicidal thoughts and as the surviving daughter of someone who died by suicide. I like to think I would never again turn my thoughts into a plan. But I feel a little less sure of my ability to never make that decision every time I hear of anyone’s passing in this way.

But consequential good is not the takeaway. If all it took was people dying to appreciate their own lives, plenty of people have already died for the cause and the suicide rate would have gone down. That’s not the reality we are living in.

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