Shepard Smith from Fox News: “It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?” he added. “You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they’re in their mid-20s, and they’re inspiring you, and exciting you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known. And yet, something inside you is so horrible or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.”
Fox News is pretty much the only news channel I watch. I have grown to like Shepard Smith among several other people on that channel. However, this morning, I have been made to reconsider.
What Shepard Smith says shows the ignorance about mental illness that grows rampant in our society. It is bad enough that there is a stigma and so many people are uneducated about mental illness. It is bad enough that when there are tragedies that the media doesn’t use the opportunity to educate the public about mental illnesses and only likes to demonize the suspect and make people think that all people who have mental illnesses are violent.
Smith went over the top. I don’t think it is good enough that he apologized. It makes me sick to think that he is going to get away with it just by saying he is sorry and that “it just came out of his mouth”. Would it be ok if he said that to someone who died of a heart attack was awful to do that to his/her family because they didn’t diet? Would it be ok that it was awful that someone left their kids behind because they didn’t do the right treatment and died of cancer? Would it be ok if he was insensitive and said that someone died of lung disease because they chose to smoke and that he could not believe they would do that to their family? I don’t think so!
People with mental illnesses don’t choose to have the mental illness just like someone does not choose to have cancer or heart disease. Maybe it is time that Shephard Smith along with the majority of other media takes a course in compassion and educates themselves on how mental illness affects 1 in 4 people. Depression is not a choice or a sign of weakness and suicide is the tenth leading cause of death and the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24. 3
Maybe if they started using opportunities like this to educate the public about how cowardice it is to commit suicide, it would be better to broadcast the suicide hotline, quote stats about mental illness, and educate everyone about the various mental illnesses. They should also read the Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide
I don’t think that Smith should get away with this. He obviously felt that Robin Williams was a coward or he would not have said it.
Things Shephard could have used the air time for instead of what he said:
- Sharing Statistics about Mental Illness
- Defining Various Mental Illnesses
- Letting People know that there is a Suicide Hotline &the importance of using it if you need it.
- Raise awareness that there is no shame in seeking help if you think you have a mental illness
- Interviewing celebrities who have a mental illness.
There are so many things he could have used the air time for and yet he chose to let everyone know that he thought suicide was cowardly and that people with mental illnesses should be ashamed of themselves. It makes me sick! I am usually a forgiving person, but it will be a very long time before I can listen to Smith again if ever.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please seek help.