The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

Get a New Punchline: ‘KMS’ Is Not Funny

Wryn Duepre
Many people use “KMS” as a common saying to express irritation. This normalizes and devalues cries for help.

“I’m gonna kill myself” has become Gen Z’s way to express frustration.

When a term becomes everyday slang, the meaning is easily forgotten. But “I’m gonna kill myself” isn’t just a fun play on words or a misunderstood metaphor; it’s a blatant warning.

A threat to end your life is still a threat, whether or not it’s a joke over a bad grade or an honest call for help. But does that mean you’re going to get Safe to Tell called on you because you used hyperbole? It depends on the audience of your oh-so-funny suicide joke.

Yes, if you threaten to kill yourself you might have the hotline called on you. But I’m not saying the people who called Safe2Tell were wrong. It would be much more dangerous to treat all threats of suicide as jokes, because the reality is, your survival is not stand up comedy material.

When teens continue to meet breakups and failed quizzes with “kms”, their ‘hot new slang’ comes as a sickening gut punch to those who’ve lost people to suicide, and also to those who have faced suicidal ideation themselves.

The Center for Disease Control found that 22% of teens seriously considered suicide in the past year. That’s nearly one in every four teens.
Imagine walking through the halls after losing a loved one to suicide and hearing a peer say they’re going to kill themselves because they have too much homework. Or because they heard TikTok might be getting banned. Or because they got called to their dean’s office for skipping class.

The problem is that these aren’t just hypotheticals, they’re the reality of those impacted by actual suicide everyday. Before you’ve been personally affected by suicide, it might not seem “that deep.” To those unaffected, losing a friend or family member to suicide might seem just as impossible as to a zombie outbreak.

But unlike a sudden zombie apocalypse, real people die to suicide every day. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in Colorado.

Struggling with suicidal ideation doesn’t give you the right to senselessly trigger those thoughts in other people. Some things, although protected by freedom of speech, should not be joked about.

It’s not a question of whether or not you’re able to say it; it’s whether or not you should. You should care about how your words affect others, even if that means giving up your favorite insensitive phrase.

But completely censoring the topic of suicide is not the answer. Suicide is taboo enough as is, and acting like it doesn’t exist only adds to ignorance and controversy. Suicide needs to be talked about, but it shouldn’t be the subject of a punchline.

Every teen I know has used humor as a coping mechanism. In fact, it might be the only way they know how to address uncomfortable topics. But I’ve learned that it’s very rarely just a joke, but instead, a way for people to reach out for help without blatantly asking.

If you’ve tried to discourage this behavior in your friends or classmates, you’ve probably heard things like “you’re just sensitive” or “I obviously didn’t mean it.”

It’s not socially acceptable to be uncomfortable with people threatening to kill themselves. The progress towards making suicide less taboo is now going too far, and becoming more harmful than helpful.

So what happens now when a joke carries more meaning than the person lets on? Because it’s so popular to joke about killing yourself, real calls for help are ignored.

Regardless of how many times you hear it in a day, how many friends joke about it in the halls, or how many times you even say it yourself, laughing off someone’s threat at suicide could be the difference between life and death.

So, be the buzzkill. Be the annoying friend who takes everything too seriously. Be the stranger who reminds people in the hall what their words really mean. I’d make that sacrifice if it meant I could help just one person, and you should too.

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About the Contributors
Jude Gorden
Jude Gorden, Features Editor
 Hi, I’m Jude Gorden and I’m a junior at Creek. This is my second year writing for the USJ, and this year I am the Features Editor. I like to write about current events or problems that affect communities I’m a part of, but I also love to do more lighthearted reviews on pop culture. I’m very excited to take on new responsibilities as an editor this year and improve my writing skills.
Wryn Duepre
Wryn Duepre, Chief Photographer
Hi, my name is Wryn and I am a senior! I am the Chief Photographer for the USJ and this is my second year doing so! I love writing, reading, and taking pictures. I am a freelance photographer in my spare time and I love teaching photography and creating impactful photos that tell stories!

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