Celebrity public meltdowns: why are we laughing?

A few weeks ago, as I’m sure many of you are aware, child star Amanda Bynes had her latest breakdown, airing it on Twitter for the world to see. She claimed that she had been abused by her father her whole life, then quickly denied the statement saying it was due to the microchip implanted in her brain. My flatmate and I were laughing as we watched her tweets live, and found the whole ordeal pretty amusing.

Amanda Bynes 3

The next day I decided to do a Twitter search of her name to see what the latest drama was. I quickly found out that she had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital and was undergoing treatment. Not surprising, I thought. It was then that I came across a tweet that changed my perspective on it all. It read something along the lines of: we cried when Robin Williams died but we’re laughing at Amanda Bynes.

Short and powerful. Why are we finding her deteriorating mental health a form of entertainment, but deeply upset by the passing of Robin Williams? Mental health is no laughing matter.

Mental health awareness – or the lack of it – has been discussed a lot in the news and media lately and it is an issue that needs addressing. Whilst listening to the radio yesterday, a certain news story grasped my attention which was making an attempt to help tackle this problem. It was about a new suicide prevention app, created by the charity Samaritans, which people can download in order to monitor the tweets of friends and loved ones.

The app, titled Radar, monitors tweets for words and phrases which could signify that a person in struggling or going through a tough time. It hopes to ensure that people don’t miss important tweets at times when they may not be likely to see them, such as at night.

Even though it is undergoing some scrutiny, I believe that it is a brilliant invention. It’s not doing any harm; its primary purpose is to prevent it.

We live in a world where technology, for a lot of people, is a main source for communication. We’ve all seen those Facebook statuses and tweets from people who share a little too much information, but maybe this isn’t a bad thing? If someone finds it a useful way to vent their anger, show their emotions or deal with certain issues, let them! If Amanda Bynes hadn’t written those tweets and made clear how mentally unstable she was, she may not have got the medical attention that she required. We should use our technology reliant society to our advantage to create more apps like Radar, and adapt and change them to improve the lives and stability or people who may not be so easily reached in other ways.

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