On October 19, 2016 (yesterday as I write this) my 15-year-old son interrupted my back porch coffee time to share something with me. “Mom, I think I just watched an ad for suicide.” He was visibly shaken so I asked if it was advocating suicide or against suicide. He said, “I think it was for it. Would you please check it out for me?” I got more info from him, and I told him to pause it the next time it came on YouTube so I could see it also. I checked it out immediately as my son is hard to shake up. I am still shocked and disturbed by what I saw.
For full disclosure this was an advertisement for a movie, but I discovered that after researching a bit more. Also, as you can see in the twitter link below, it is not identified as a movie in anyway. I completely understand why my son felt uncomfortable and happy that he brought this to my attention. I am not in any way advocating or boycotting this film at this time. What I am trying to do is raise awareness on what disturbed me as a therapist when I investigated this advertisement.
Trigger warning: this is about suicide, but I hope that you continue reading to learn why I am upset.
This is the 'advertisement' that my son saw on Youtube https://twitter.com/ThereIsACure/status/788046896816279552
When I typed the information my son provided into Google and got started I ended up at a website called http://acureforwellness.com. I was on my tablet and my cell phone so only the info above the fold was displayed. I did not know there was more to the page that indicated (below the fold) this was a film. The website displays a haunting figure of a woman suspended in water with the words, “There is a cure” and arrows to slide through other disturbing backgrounds. There is a button that you can click that says “begin treatment”. Clicking this leads you to a three choice menu “Water, Earth, and Air” in order to “begin meditation.”
The water meditation essentially takes the listener through drowning to “embrace the hopelessness” and to “accept the futility of your existence.” The earth meditation repeats these same sentiments through being buried alive. The air meditation encourages your spirit to leave your body and plunge to the ground from an incredible height. The entire thing is eerie, uncomfortable, and shocking.
This is the information on the film that I found from 20th Century Fox.
An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps. He soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem. When he begins to unravel its terrifying secrets, his sanity is tested, as he finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all the guests here longing for the cure. From Gore Verbinski, the visionary director of THE RING, comes the new psychological thriller, A CURE FOR WELLNESS.
Enjoy a complimentary meditation at: http://ACureForWellness.com
In Theaters - February 17, 2017
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Even knowing now that this is for a film I still find the following disturbing.
First: This ad is not well marked it viewed on a tablet or cellphone.
Second: There is no disclaimer or warning about content or the intent of the presented material.
Third: There is no information on the national suicide hotline for people who might get here by accident. That number by the way is 1-800-273-8255 and is staffed 24 hours a day every single day of the year.
Fourth: Feelings of hopelessness, suicide, and existential discomfort are NOT entertainment.
I worry about the people who see this like my unsuspecting son and who are disturbed without having the benefit of a therapist as a parent. I worry about people who have had suicidal thoughts or attempts who might be triggered by this ad. I worry about nearly every person in the world who has been touched by the effects of a suicide attempt or completion by a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker, etc. I worry about the people who might get to this site while trying to legitimately find answers to their feelings of hopelessness but are greeted with a meditation telling them the best thing is to end it.
What I would like to know is:
Does this disturb anyone else?
What are some ideas you have to change the message presented on their teaser site?
Did this post inspire you to research and brainstorm ideas on how to become part of the conversation?
Respond here on my blog at http://www.smallstepscounseling.com/blog, on my Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/SmallStepsCounseling/, or on my twitter@SmallStepsCoun #therapyisthecure #talkingisthecure