Anyone who uses the internet has likely been bombarded by the ongoing Miley Cyrus vs. Sinead O’Connor feud. Generally, I avoid any and all “celebrity news”, but O’Connor’s fourth open letter does a lot in the way of protecting mental illness sufferers, so I thought I should bring it to attention.
A brief summary of interactions thus far: O’Connor penned an open letter to Cyrus, showing great concern for her, and pleading with her to stop “prostituting” herself for the anti-feminist music industry. Basically, she said that the people who care about you will tell you not to grind against your co-performer, make extremely suggestive movements and gestures, and refuse to keep your tongue in your mouth for more than sixty seconds. Cyrus proceeded to post old “tweets” from O’Connor two years ago when she was desperately seeking psychological help and begging for help from anyone who knew a doctor who could see her in Dublin. Cyrus said, “Before Amanda Bynes, there was…….” and “LOL”, implying that both Bynes and O’Connor have mental health issues and that this is something funny that should be mocked. O’Connor responded with several passionate letters, the most recent of which being my favorite.
O’Connor writes, “Until you exposed me (and Amanda Bynes) to abuse on the grounds of my having sought help (extremely coherently) to save my life, when experiencing suicidal compulsion as a side effect of a medication called Tegretol, I had no problem with you whatsoever.”
She encourages Cyrus to make an “apology to all sufferers of mental health difficulties and all those who have had experience of suicidal feelings or have been affected by suicide.”
She then shares some statistics about the prevalence of suicide as a cause of death for young people in America, young people who make up Cyrus’ fan base.
“You’ve acknowledged most of your fans are “very young”. You might therefore consider being careful regarding what signals you send those of them who may be feeling suicidal and would now be afraid to say so.”
“Bullying of those perceived mistakenly or otherwise to be mentally ill causes death. Period.” Bullying of any kind can result in suicide. Bullying of people who are already having mental health issues? Very, very bad.
She writes that Cyrus has “made it difficult for young people who admire you and who may be suffering with mental health problems or suicidal ideation to feel they can be open and seek help,” and that “it is imperative that all suicidal people seek help.” If only all suicidal people sought help. So many families lose loved ones when they weren’t even aware that there was a major problem. The world is such a scary place to ask for help in, and even more so with bullies like Cyrus.
“Certainly there are people out there tonight who will choose to take their lives rather than admit they need help, because when people ask for help, the media and celebrities like yourself mock them.”
And my favorite:
“You’re entitled to disagree with people. But you’re not entitled to incite abuse of those perceived to be mentally ill.”
Having influence on young people is not something to be taken lightly. It is an opportunity to help encourage healthy, happy lifestyles. Unfortunately, some (not very talented) starlets throw care to the wind and end up hurting, rather than helping, these vulnerable demographics.