CMHA Ontario and mental health advocates across Canada spoke up against a selection of T-shirts being sold on Amazon which made light of suicide. The shirts had a graphic of one stick figure standing on a chair with a noose around its neck and another stick figure sitting on a chair eating popcorn above the words “Suicide Watch.” Another version simply asked “Got Suicide?”
Mental health advocate and CMHA Mental Health Works manager Mark Henick launched an online petition on Change.org that garnered support from close to 60,000 people.
The shirts could trigger bad memories for people who’ve lost a family member or friend to suicide, or those who may have attempted suicide in the past, Henick told the Canadian Press.
Henick was inspired by 14-year-old Calgary activist Maggie Harder, who began a letter-writing campaign to Amazon headquarters, asking the website to stop selling T-shirts featuring messages she said stigmatize individuals affected by mental health issues.
“In Canada, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young people under the age of 24,” CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville told CityNews. “I can’t imagine that anybody would find it humorous.”
A week after Henick launched the petition, the T-shirts in question were removed in whole from Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, and in part from Amazon.ca (one version remains).
To date, Amazon has not made an official public statement or issued an apology for the incident.