With Halloween approaching quickly, I feel that it is necessary to write this article. As expected, each and every year mental illnesses and the tragedies they can cause are used as both Halloween costumes and decoration. Not only is this deemed acceptable, but is also defended by the companies who produce and sell these products, as well as those who use them.
Firstly, what is the purpose of Halloween? Oh yes, that’s it, to be celebrated by children (or people of all ages) by dressing up in frightening masks and costumes. Where did Halloween come from? It came from ancient Celtic roots, and is known as Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-in’). It is believed that during Samhain the division between the living world and the other world is at its thinnest, allowing the spirits of the dead to come through.
Where does anything to do with mental illness come into Halloween? What part of the literal definition of both the modern day celebration of Halloween, and the original celebration of Samhain mentions mental illnesses being a part of Halloween? Oh wait, it doesn’t.
This type of behaviour promotes stigma to an excessive extent, including promoting the idea that we who suffer from mental illnesses are ‘violent, ‘crazy’, ‘psychos’. It is the typical stigma from the media that portrays the idea that serial killers, mass murderers, and any criminals are mentally ill; which is far from the truth. It demonises those who suffer from mental illnesses entirely. Simply put, it is offensive stereotyping.
However, that is not the only issue which can come from this type of behaviour. It desensitizes people to mental illness, self harm, and suicide; whilst making it seem as if it’s not a big deal at all. If you were to read the article Suicide: A Reflection on Society you will see that it is one of the biggest and potentially hazardous things that is occurring within the human race, it truly is an epidemic. By engaging in this sort of behaviour, you are putting lives at risk.
Not only does the issue lie with all of the above, but also with the friends and families of those who suffer from a mental illness or who have either committed or attempted suicide. No parent, sibling, friend, or relation of a mentally ill individual should have to witness others using such tragedies, horrific events, and debilitating illnesses as costumes and decoration to ‘celebrate’ and ‘have fun’ during Halloween; nor should the individuals who suffer from a mental illness.
Halloween is a frightening and distressing time for some of those who suffer from a mental illness and their relatives anyway, as there are many things which could trigger an individual to have an episode; without your costumes and decorations which mock them. For example, hanging fake bodies or tying nooses around trees clearly symbolises suicide, which can be a huge trigger to certain mentally ill individuals and their families; there is no point in doing this, you are merely causing distress for others.
The family members, friends, and relations of mentally ill individuals, as well as mentally ill individuals, who’s door you may accidentally knock on during Halloween whilst you’re wearing a costume which mocks them or their loved ones would be completely outrageous, and could end in a tragedy on either end of the parties involved.
There is not one single thing that is fun, comical, or enjoyable about mental illnesses. Our lives are already difficult enough, without the addition of all of this.
There are endless reasons that I could give for this type of behaviour being both wrong and disgusting, as well as being completely idiotic and disrespectful. Anyone I see whom is participating in this behaviour will certainly not be getting away with it, nor should they. Do not encourage or allow people you know to behave like this, and for the people who do, just know that I hate you.