Recently I came across a post on social media about an R&B singer Kehlani that evoked very strong emotions in me which quite frankly I was not aware of. The post as follows:
“RnB singer Kehlani recently got accused for infidelity. Conveniently, she attempted suicide as a way of trying to escape the abuse –(criticism on social media).
I am split about this. On one hand, she may actually have felt depressed. On another, I feel she took this drastic step for attention seeking/sympathy.
We as a society, are we too Judgemental which can drive people to do such things?”
That was a reaction related to a post on Kehlani’s instagram:
Attention seeking and sympathy are words that have been used to describe this incident in many social media posts and pop culture blogs. For example, R&B singer Chris Brown has a very similar view and posted:
“There is no attempting suicide. Stop flexing for the gram. Doing sh*t for sympathy so them comments under your pics don’t look so bad.”
Well my first reaction was shock. I was pretty much stunned at not only the ignorance of the fact but simply the fact that most people couldn’t look passed the alleged affair she had. I was sad because these views and comments are evidently a reflection of today’s society and generation of people who are so consumed with and influenced by social media to the extent that it has taken over our lives in too many aspects. I was disappointed and actually quite annoyed (to say the least) because in 2016, we as a modern society should know better than to allow something as trivial such as social media to have such a major impact or influence on our ability to distinct fabrication from reality. It is almost as if social media has become the new sense of reality.
A few statistics:
1 in 10 young people suffer from a mental health disorder; 50% of mental health problems are established by the age of 14 and 17% by the age of 24 (Kessler et al., 2005) and 20% of young people may experience mental health problems or the onset of mental illness at any given year (WHO, 2003). Women are more likely to suffer from a mental health problem in comparison to men and are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety related disorders. While suicide rates are generally higher in males than females, it is well recognized that self-harm including poisoning and deliberate self-injury are more common in females (O’Loughlin & Sherwood, 2005)
My point I’m trying to make here is that mental health problems are real and amongst us and it shouldn’t be overlooked, ignored or not being taken seriously. Before that day I had no clue who Kehlani was and I still don’t know much about her, I’m unable to develop a formulation nor am I qualified to diagnose anyone but since she’s a 21 year old young woman who’s dealing with scrutiny from the media, fans and blogs around the clock, based on research I figure she may well be suffering from mental illness. Secondly, what if she was indeed seeking attention or sympathy? Has anyone thought of the possibility that she might be displaying this behaviour on this scale as a cry for help? Even if she did cheat on her partner and she only harmed herself in an attempt to deflect from that issue, shouldn’t that ring a few alarm bells?
I’ve had a few instances when I’ve told certain people that I’m training to become a psychologist and their response were ‘Oh, so you like working with crazy people?’ … Perhaps, these comments get to me because I do not only study mental health for a living but I intermittently suffer from depression and anxiety myself and I know how much of a silent killer it can be. This feeling of being sucked into a black hole and not knowing when you’ll be able to get out of it. Not being able to control your irrational thoughts, feelings, behaviours and emotions. Imagine being locked in a sound proof room where nobody can hear you scream for help, you endlessly trying to break through those brick walls. All you can do is wait. Wait for the darkness to disappear, for a door to open, which can take days, months or years. Mental suffering is probably the worst kind of pain a person can go through.
So I guess where am going with this is, when it comes to a person who appears to show signs of mental health issues its imperative to consider all possible causes or reasons behind it and consider the facts prior to passing judgement.