You’ve read that right. This is something that is happening on our ‘one happy island’ of Aruba; teens are romanticizing death. Though, I don’t see this topic being covered in any of the news channels, websites or radio for that matter. This phenomenon is slowly but surely becoming a visible and an invisible problem within the Aruban society. By letting this topic stay taboo on Aruba we are all contributing to making it more difficult for teens that need help to talk about and to seek professional help.
13 Reasons Why
There is a popular Netflix show called 13 Reasons Why, which teens are glued to at the moment. The reason why this show can be harmful amongst teens is because it shows graphic scenes where the main character, Hannah Baker, is raped and later on when she commits suicide by cutting into her arm. There are even numerous 13 Reasons Why fanbase Facebook pages in different languages dedicated to making memes and generating Facebook likes and follows in order to be considered popular. This has led to teens using the controversial meme “welcome to your tape”. This is becoming a joking way to indicate that something or someone makes you want to kill yourself. To most teens this is a hyperbolic way of saying “fuck my life”, however, for many who suffer from a mental illness this is a way of normalizing these behaviors and is considered dangerous.
Tumblr Self-harm Blogs
There are also websites such as Tumblr with self-harm blogs run by teens catered to other teens, which are riddled with melancholic, anguished posts related to death, cutting, and suicide. Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking website founded back in 2007. This website is wildly popular amongst teens and Aruban teens are no exception. Tags such as #death, #depressing quotes, #suicide, #self-harm are all currently trending. This type of exposure may lead to potential triggers, depression, and thoughts of suicide.
Cutting: Tally Marks
Noticeably, teens have been cutting their left arm in the style of tally marks. These are straight lines normally used to indicate the passing of time, the score in a game or a point system. Cutting with a paper clip, scissors, pen or other sharp objects on the skin is one of the many ways teens can make the tally marks. Self-harm may indicate mental health concerns while others self-harm as a way to fit in with their peers.
Most teens I know don’t know they have a lifeline at their disposal, which is Telefon Pa Hubentud. Telefon Pa Hubentud is free, they can talk as long as they want and they do not need permission to call. They simply need to dial 131 and they will be put through to counselors who are there to help teens. In this day and age considering how influential certain shows, blogs, social media, memes are making romanticizing death appealing teens need to know they matter and are being heard. If not, this behavior could lead to an increase of self-harm injuries and suicide. From experience, having someone to talk to who was open to listening to why I was cutting was extremely helpful during my teen years. Remember that life is way too short to spend at war with yourself.
Lily has been a copywriter from an early age. She has also self-published her first book in 2015, a poetry book titled ‘Lost Love Poems’. An English teacher by day and author by night. Lily is currently studying to attain a BA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from Windesheim college located in Zwolle, the Netherlands. Currently, Lily teaches English to EPB HATO students in Oranjestad, Aruba.