I Guess We Need to Explicitly Say That Suicide is Not a Fashion Statement

I can’t add much else to the observation that, “this seems like some distinctive pinnacle of awfulness.”
(Thanks to RK for the heads up)


“Vice Published a Fashion Spread of Female Writer Suicides”
(Heads up: there are pictures of models depicting suicides.)

Okay, I can add this.  For all I know, inside a moral vacuum maybe implying that suicide is beautiful isn’t immoral.  But I feel confident in the assertion that in a social context where a segment of the population is encouraged to believe that they are only valuable members of society insofar as they are capable of being beautiful, emphasizing that such people can be beautiful and stylish while committing suicide is pretty damn immoral. And I am equally confident in asserting that we currently live in such a social context.

I’m going to take this opportunity to provide some links and quotes:
If you are feeling suicidal:

(more after the jump)

If you know someone who is or may be suicidal:

I’m also going to plug this free ‘game’ again, because I think for some people it can offer a really effective way to explore your depression and suicidal thoughts in a cathartic manner, or for those who haven’t experienced them, gain a better understanding of what depression and suicidal tendencies are like:


If you would like to the read the blog of someone who has continuously dealt with suicidal thoughts for a long time (as well as other mountains of bs that life has thrown at her), I recommend DaisyBee’s blog, because she is a fantastic writer, an avid feminist, and is brutally honest and open about her life.


Whether you have ever been suicidal or not, this webcomic has some real powerful things to offer in additional to brilliant humor:


Also, since Vice didn’t think this was really important enough to include in their spread, here’s some of the writing and thoughts about writing by those people who were these things called writers and whose legacies and impact on the world eclipsed the mere manner of their deaths:


Virginia Wolfe:
“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”

Iris Chang:
“Your first duty as a writer is to write to please yourself. And you have no duty towards anyone else.”

Dorothy Parker:
“Now I know the things I know, and I do the things I do; and if you do not like me so, to hell, my love, with you! ”

Charlotte Perkins Gilman:
“A concept is stronger than a fact.”

Sylvia Plath:
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

“Don’t ask from where I have come,
My home is far, far away.
Why do you wander so far?
Wander so far?”

Elise Cowen:
“The Lady is a humble thing
Made of death and water
The fashion is to dress it plain
And use the mind for border”



9 thoughts on “I Guess We Need to Explicitly Say That Suicide is Not a Fashion Statement

  1. I don’t agree with this negative stance on suicide.
    It’s a personal choice. Who are we to tell someone that her choice is wrong? It predominantly affects her own life. Of course others will mourn and miss her, but should she care? Should she lead the life that others want or desire her to lead? Certainly not.
    I have respect for people who can make that decision, implement it and don’t give a damn what others would want them to do. And by the way, I came to this conclusion after attending the funeral of my cousin where everyone except me seemed to blame him posthumously for what he did: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/world-suicide-prevention-day-on-10-september/

  2. Nowhere in that post do I say that committing suicide is wrong or immoral. I say that implying that a person has to be beautiful to be a worthy person and then trumping up suicide as beautiful is wrong and immoral.

    It is a personal choice, one that is often made by people who are struggling with feelings of worthlessness. So it is a choice that should be made without the toxic and wrong-as-fuck idea that killing yourself in stylish clothes is one of the few ways a woman can achieve the ever-elusive beauty standards of our culture and so achieve her maximum potential human value.

  3. Hi Stacey, thanks for the thought provoking post. I agree with you that any degree of implication that someone should die in order to be a worthwhile person is terrible. I also think that Andreas wasn’t being unfair in interpreting you as taking a negative stance on suicide; although you don’t say that it’s wrong or immoral, sites like helpguide.org are explicitly aimed at preventing suicide. Hence, I thought Andreas was reasonable in thinking that you don’t have a neutral stance on suicide per se, but rather a negative one. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that, but I also don’t think Andreas had an unreasonable interpretation of your post.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve had a suicide note saved to my email drafts for a while. I look at it fairly often, and wonder if I’ll decide to send it out sometime I’m feeling particularly bad. I agree wholeheartedly with Andreas (and you, in your comment) that these things aren’t shameful at all–though, our intervention culture implies otherwise. However, I do think someone killing themselves because a media piece implicitly glorified suicide would be tragic. And also very unlikely. It seems to me that the Vice piece aimed to titillate through transgressing social norms rather than to promote an idea of beautiful death, and I think that’s how its readers will respond to it.

    Regardless, it does seem to me that their fashion spread was tasteless and deranged. It’s saddening that our society produces things like this.

  4. I just want to add that it’s especially tasteless and deranged (and offensive) coming as it does in the midst of media attention to the fetishization of ‘dead girls’ in the Steubenville rapes and elsewhere. The idea that dead (or simulating dead) is sexy in women is dangerous and sexist on multiple levels.

  5. I can see suicide as an option for older people with a bleak future or in pain or suffering from some horrible disease or maybe for a young person with an equally horrible disease or in pain, but no, I don’t see suicide as an option for young people.

    I’ve known lots of people who have threatened suicide, two who carried it out and I’ve even thought about it myself, although I now probably fall in the category of older people with an ever bleaker future.

    The sun also rises, as they say and a young person, who is depressed or who has suffered a frustration at school or in their love life, is not a competent judge of whether their life is worth living or not. Unlike an older person, they will have countless chances to study another subject or find a better job or find a more suitable mate or whatever they are seeking in life.

    So if anyone who is young tells me that they are thinking of suicide, I’ll will stay up all night arguing with them and part of my standard argument is that if they take another pill or go close to that window, I will call the police immediately and they will spend a long long stretch in a very unpleasant state-run mental institution, which has nothing glamorous about it. That is a very effective argument.

  6. Portraying women committing suicide as erotic is of the same fabric in which the rape and murder of women is portrayed as being erotic

    Here are some specific hotlines:

    suicide hotline for women veterans  1 – 855-​VA-​WOMEN (1 – 855-829‑6636) 

    the National Sex­ual Assault Hot­line at 1 – 800-​656-​HOPE

    The Trevor Project is the lead­ing national orga­ni­za­tion pro­vid­ing cri­sis inter­ven­tion and sui­cide pre­ven­tion ser­vices to les­bian, gay, bisex­ual, trans­gen­der, and ques­tion­ing youth.

    National Run­away Safe­line We are here to lis­ten and here to help.
    Call 1 – 800-​RUNAWAY to talk with some­one now. Not ready to call? You can also post on our bul­letin board, send us an email, or start a live chat…

  7. I agree with Andreas M that no one should be forced to live a life she does not want. It seems to me, however, that this is a far cry from simply accepting suicide as a neutral choice. In the vast majority of cases, suicide is a tragic choice for everyone. Whether and in which cases it is a morally problematic choice requires significant exploration. But, we can set aside the moral judgment and still find it sad.

  8. “What, then, is our neigh­bor? Thou hast regarded his thought, his feel­ing, as some­how dif­fer­ent from thine. Thou hast said, ‘A pain in him is not like a pain in me, but some­thing far eas­ier to bear.’ He seems to thee a lit­tle less liv­ing than thou; his life is dim, it is cold, it is a pale fire beside thy own burn­ing desire …

    ~ Josiah Royce

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