Amazon suicide shirt sales prompts Calgary teen to take action

Maggie Harder's campaign wants to end stigma around mental illness

Maggie Harder

Calgary teen Maggie Harder is going after Amazon for selling shirts dealing with mental illness and suicide in their humour section. (CBC)



A young Calgary activist isn't happy with Amazon for selling T-shirts which try to use humour to trade on suicide and depression.

Maggie Harder, 14, wants to raise awareness about the stigma associated with mental illness.

She believes that selling shirts emblazoned with phrases like "Got suicide?", "Stressed, depressed but well dressed" and "Suicide makes our lives so much easier" aren't funny. 

Amazon shirt Suicide Watch

One of the shirts for sale on Amazon dealing with suicide. (Amazon screen shot)

"Not only are they disrespectful but they poke fun at mental illness," said Harder. 

She wants people to join her in writing letters to Amazon, calling on the internet company to stop selling such material.

"If we all got together, we're a power. We're a movement and (if) we're able to get the attention of Amazon, that would be huge."

Harder has already sent a letter to Amazon but she hasn't received a response.  

An associate professor of social work at Mount Royal University agrees it's not appropriate for Amazon to have the novelty shirts in its humour section.

Amazon Got Suicide shirt

Another offering from Amazon, this shirt is for sale in the humour section. (Amazon screen shot)

"Would you laugh at somebody walking along the street with a disability and using a cane? Would you laugh at somebody with multiple sclerosis?" said Peter Choate.

He considers the shirts dealing with suicide to be particularly offensive.  

"Why would you laugh at somebody who is so depressed that suicide has become an option?" said Choate. 

He said it is possible to use humour as an ice-breaker to start a conversation about such a serious topic, but Choate feels any possible upside of the messages on the shirts is undermined by Amazon selling them from its humour section.

"It's not about being politically correct. It's about being sensitive and understanding," he said.

Amazon has not responded to CBC's request for comment.

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