I love ‘Glee’, but I just watched the latest episode and I was really surprised, appalled, and disturbed by the scene where a bullied, depressed teen was shown trying to hang himself. What in the world? I even had to rewind it to make sure I was correct in what I had seen? I found myself sitting through the commercial break trying to decide if I could even watch the rest of the program.
I did stay tuned and I must admit that I am glad that I did. I am just concerned about some of the teen viewers who may not have watched what happened next.
Thankfully, Karofsky, did not successfully commit suicide, but he did end up in the hospital. Why did he feel so desperate? What could lead a teenager to feel so sad, defeated and ALONE, that they would attempt to kill themselves? In this case, the character was “outed” about his sexuality (I think on Facebook). He was then taunted by the entire football team and chased from the locker room, which led to his attempted suicide.
This story line touched too close to some real situations I have had with my own patients. I have been the pediatrician for patients who have killed themselves. Their parents and friends will never understand what could have driven them to such a decision, nor will I.
I do know that suicide cannot be hidden and that there needs to be open discussions between adults and teens about suicide While the ‘Glee’ episode did that, I think it was unnecessary to show this young man preparing to hang himself.
The teachers and students on ‘Glee’ all openly discussed the attempted suicide. Mr. Shue even gathered the Glee club to talk about his own teen years and how he had at one time thought about killing himself.
He then had the students in glee club talk about something 10 years in the future that they were looking forward to. This helped each of them to realize while their problems might seem insurmountable for the moment, that was never the case. There was so much to live for in the future.
It was really interesting that in the next several days in my office more than a few adolescents and their parents also brought up the ‘Glee’ episode. Many of them were equally disturbed and concerned about the vivid depiction of an adolescent trying to end their own life. Several had talked about turning it off, but the show did lead to conversations with their own families and friends. I guess that the “shock factor” may be a conversation starter.
Lastly, the ending of ‘Glee’ was also shocking.....maybe too much to discuss in one show. Suicide and texting while driving may have been better tackled in separate episodes?
What do you think? I would love to hear from you!