'Glee' Suicide Told the Truth Kids Need to Hear

Mom Moment 9

Glee Dave KarofskyWhen actor Max Adler grabbed his belt in his hands, I knew Glee was going there. They were going to take teen suicide and put it in prime time. My stomach clenched and my heart sank. It was a risk. But it's about time someone took it.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America. But in teenagers and young adults, it skyrockets to the third leading cause of death. Third. Among our nation's next great hope.

And as long as we keep hiding it, it's going to keep happening.

As it stands now, suicide remains one of the taboo subjects with teens. I've even had doctors, whose job it is to ask these kinds of questions, couch the "well, have you ever had suicidal thoughts" query with a disclaimer like "well, I have to ask this." But it's a discussion that's especially absent in the parent-child and school-student relationships.

Glee's writers weren't afraid to address that last night either. After Dave Karofsky attempted to hang himself to escape the pain of having his homosexuality mercilessly mocked in the locker room and online, members of the the staff at the fictitious McKinley High School gathered in the principal's office to discuss how they'd present it to their students. And Principal Figgins' first concern was the risk of "copycats" among the student body if they were to bring it up.

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I get it. No one wants to be the one who put such a tragic thought into a kid's mind. And there is some evidence from real scientific sources that there is a risk that suicide can be "contagious." And yet, if you look at the science, it isn't the acknowledgement that suicide happens that is the problem. It's the risk of "glorifying" the act.

This is where Glee gives us a road map. They unveiled the horrors with none of the adulation for the act.

Now, parents, it's your turn. It's time to stop being too afraid to face one of the worst things that could enter a parent's mind -- the possible death of their child -- and put your kids' needs first. They need to hear, from the people who will always love them unconditionally, that they do matter, that things do get better, and that there will always be a way out of pain and darkness. If you think they already know these things, fine. Say it again. What's the worst that can happen? That your kid feels "too" loved? Really?

Then at least they'll know they aren't alone, that they are being heard. That's what suicide is. It's the desperate act of someone who feels they have no voice. And as long as we pretend that kids don't commit suicide, we are feeding that problem, we are silencing kids' calls to be heard.

Suicide is a cry for help that cannot be answered. It is too late for the person we have lost. But it is not too late for the other kids who can be saved if we would just open our mouths and start talking about it.

Glee got the conversation started. Let's keep it going.

How have you opened up the talk about suicide with your kids?


Image via Fox

bullies, safety, tough topics, glee


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mlber... mlberry4172

I have struggled with depression most of my life. When I was a teen my dad's good friend killed herself. I was talking to my dad about it, he probably sensed I was too curious because he looked me dead in the eye and told me that suicide was selfish. A person who commits suicide ends their pain but it all gets passed on to their family and friends. I remember that conversation to this day. It is honestly the only reason I had never attempted suicide, well before my boys anyway. So, yes please talk to your teen, they will listen!!!!!!!!

Theresa Dooley

 i watched  last nights gless . and  was so saddened by  daves  choice to  . to commit suicide . i mean yes  gless writers took that  risk but . we have  got to put a stop to this bullying is  schools  because  one person is not like  another .  i mean my own  brother  was bullied  for the  same  reasons  . as kurt and   david . and i dont  find  it right .  it's   TIME    we make a chance  and  show peple  it  dont  matter   if  your   gay  striaght    bi  white  black   native  american  mexican   asian  or  what . if you wear glasses or  dont  .   it's  time  we    start to  say NO  to bulying and  voilice in our  school and in our  lifes .  we are all the   same   we are humans  and  wqe all breath the   same   air . we  all  bleed   red blood  and  we all have  feelings that  can be hurt  by some one else .  it's  time  for a chance and the  time is  NOW .

linzemae linzemae

I cried so much during the episode. At first I thought there was no way they would go there but I'm glad they did.... It's real life. People do this everyday and it needs to stop!

Caera Caera

Jeanne, your title is misleading. It was a suicide attempt. Be a little more accurate, okay?

nonmember avatar AI

As a person with mental illness that often results in suicidal thoughts and behaviors, it's difficult for me to agree with some of this. Sadly, things do not always get better -you can only change how you choose to respond. As for the concept of a cry for help, it holds for many cases, but speaking for myself and those like me, it can just as often be a sign of giving up any hope for help. Intervention and treatment are key, but it's unfair to tell someone things will get better. What happens if they don't? That often leads to relapse. It bothers me when it's painted as a selfish act because it only makes people feel guilty of their emotions. Open the lines of communication, ask them why they feel so desperate, offer support, seek treatment. As for the first comment, I'm glad that helped you, but that line if thought us exactly why I never got treatment when I lived with my parents. I felt guilty about my thoughts. It's surprising I made it out if that house alive.

Leah Klump

I agree with mlberry4172. My little brother killed himself three years ago this week and I felt as though all of his pain had been passed to my parents, his friends, and to me. It is selfish, but it's also important to remember that suicide comes from depression, a medical condition. It is a mental/emotional illness that cannot always be controlled. The only way to prevent it from happening is to be aware of the people you care about. Talk to your loved ones regularly and make sure the people you love know that you love them. Even if they won't tell you when something is wrong, just listening to what they say and spending time around them will make you more aware of how they are really feeling and make it more likely that you will know when something is really wrong. Thanks Glee for bringing this important issue to people's attention! Sometimes people need to see the harsh reality of life to be made aware of how they are living their lives and interacting with those around them.

nonmember avatar tim

well i think that step glee took was a step that needed to be taken because it is the issues that are happening here at hand in america.. Unfortunatly i suffer through severe depression and it never gets any better the only thing does help is therapy and it will not ever go away.. Those with depression will fight it thier whole lives and will always be on medicine because bad things either happened somewhere in thier lives or a chemical inbalance.. And stating that commiting suicide is selfish is not necessary true... To the person who is thinking about it they already feel unloved unwanted and feel "no one cares" what is selfish is the people saying it is selfish because they arent thinking how it would make them feel... When in reality those that say this should say how can we help u.. And that is how i think on that subject.. Teen texting while drivin should be illegal in all fifty states

Sam Zech

Not true; those with depression do not have to be on medication their whole lives. I am living proof of that. I do agree that suicide is selfish; it is sad that people are in so much pain they are blinded to the pain they can cause others.  Here is the story of a man who was told he would always be on meds and never be mentally "right" - now he is a public motivational speakerto goes to juvenile prisons, churches, public schools, etc. There is hope.

Matthew Broadbent-Mežnarić

The episode was heart breaking, well-written, etc... The ISSUE of suicide was also very well dealt with in regards to the great mass that is the public.
However there is a major problem with what happened on the show. And that is that Karofsky lives. Don't get me wrong, lovely character, I was quite emotionally happy when I found out he was alive. But in the eye of a depressed teen what happens is that he tries to commit suicide, fails and therefore gets to live, everyone starts feeling compassion/acceptance/love for him and he moves on with his life in a positive direction. That is THE thing you want at that stage: attention, love and change.
What Glee should have portrayed is reality: you try to commit suicide, YOU DIE. It's ugly, it's brutal but it's true. Suicide leads to death, and that's what should have been shown.

PS: I say this as someone who has (in the past) gone through a lot of depression, has self-harmed and has more than once been on the verge of suicide.

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