One of the more recent deaths that hit me quite hard was Robin Williams; the world mourned together at his passing while the media continued releasing insensitive and graphic details of his death. This is a person who suffered greatly! Why did we as a society accept that it was okay for him to be defined primarily by the details of his death instead of how he impacted the world around him? This goes for the celebrities who have overdosed due to substance abuse as well - intentional or not.
Social media has greatly impacted how information is spread, including the romanticizing of depression and other mental illnesses. While certain platforms like Facebook and Twitter may be able to provide help and supportive communities, others such as Tumblr have the potential to easily attract a crowd that can immerse themselves in other people's suffering. Being constantly surrounded by images, and text posts about how people are feeling can take a generally positive person and make them feel like they can relate to the pain that others are going through. This isn't to say that they can't relate or don't have issues, but consistently being exposed to images combined with poetry and beautiful words of suffering can almost make the viewer crave that kind of pain. An impressionable person may see an image of a thin figure with porcelain skin sitting with a look of melancholy and they suddenly want to be suffering in a way that will make them resemble that.
Movies and TV series are another media outlet in which mental illnesses are portrayed. I can't argue whether they've displayed these characters correctly or not as I haven't personally seen a lot of them but I have noticed that they are becoming more prominent. While mental illness may have been briefly mentioned or hinted at in the past, newer movies like 'Before I Go To Sleep' and 'Still Alice' focus primarily on issues such as amnesia and dementia. Even movies like Ironman 3 or TV shows such as Teen Wolf that are directed towards a younger audience have brought up issues with PTSD, anxiety, and panic attacks. This may not be a direct form of education but it may encourage people to speak out about mental illness or spark an interest into searching for more information.
Overall I feel like media could be used as a tool to help end stigma and further educate the public as well as encourage those who are suffering to speak out and seek the help they need. I don't think this is happening at all though as social media and news outlets seem to focus on the negative and clog up feeds and print media with graphic details that are unnecessary and completely inappropriate. For the most part characters in films and television that have a mental illness are still being portrayed as being psychotic or even comic relief but very rarely as an actual relatable individual. Commercials may have the right intentions but they are missing the mark and in some cases are even making the stigma surrounding mental illness worse. I feel like the media needs to change their tone in order for the general public to continue the progression towards more open and honest discussions about mental illness.