Rick Warren has joined the heads of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), American Psychiatric Association (APA), and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in protesting against DC Comic's contest that invites artists to develop ways to depict suicide attempts by one of its main villains - Harley Quinn.
DC Comic wrote on its website, "Breaking into comics was never this fun. ;)"
"There is nothing fun (or funny!) about suicide," Robert Bebbia, executive director of AFSP, Jeffrey Lieberman, president of APA, and Michael J. Fitzpatrick, executive director of NAMI wrote in a joint statement. They pointed out that in the last decade over 300,000 people died from suicide and among youth and youth adults it is the third leading cause of death. While more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have treatable mental illness, the statement reads, only 38 percent of U.S. adults with diagnosable mental illnesses, and less than 20 percent of children and youths, receive needed treatment.
The statement calls DC Comics contest "extremely insensitive and potentially dangerous," because millions of people have lost a loved one to suicide. Moreover, graphic and sensational depictions of suicide can contribute to contagion.
In addition, the three national associations acknowledge the contest may have been "unintentional," but say it "was a mistake in judgment."
"Instead of making light of suicide, DC Comics could have used this opportunity to host a contest looking for artists to depict a hopeful message that there is help for those in crisis. This would have been a positive message to send, especially to young readers," the statement reads.
Meanwhile, Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, who lost his son Matthew Warren to suicide earlier this year, wrote on Facebook, "Suicide is neither cool, nor funny. Please join me in protesting DC Comic's sick contest."
The contest was announced just before the National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 8-14th.