R&B singer Kehlani has attempted to take her own life. At 20 years old, Kehlani is a rising star in the music world, but last night she posted an Instagram photo of her arm, IV attached, from a hospital bed with the caption “I wanted to leave this Earth. Being completely selfish for once. Never thought I’d get to such a low point.” The caption continued, “Everyone is hurt and everyone is in a place of misunderstanding. But as of today, I had no single wish to see tomorrow. But God saved me for a reason, and for that I must be grateful cus I’m not in heaven right now for a reason.” She has since deleted her Instagram account.
The attempt came following an ugly Twitter debate amongst fans and otherwise interested parties, none of whom have anything to do with Kehlani personally, all of whom seemed to disregard the fact that Kehlani is a human being with feelings and a private life. To be brief: Kehlani had been dating singer PARTYNEXTDOOR. Once that relationship ended announced she was dating Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving. However, PARTYNEXTDOOR posted an Instagram photo of his hand intertwined with Kehlani’s in bed, with the caption “After all the shenanigans, still got the R&B singer back in my bed,” which seems like an extremely insensitive and baiting thing to do, but still, none of anyone’s business but their own. Cheating rumors swirled, which drove Kehlani to the attempted suicide. She maintained however that “no one was cheated on and I’m not a bad person” in the caption of her lat Instagram post.
You would think, then, that a young woman pushed to the brink of taking her own life after an onslaught of criticism and horrendous trolling from the public and the media would be pause for thought. Like maybe we would have learned something from Amy Winehouse or Whitney Houston or Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears about the way we scrutinize women in the media, too often destroying them for our own perverted amusement. But no. Some of the responses to Kehlani's suicide attempt flooding Twitter are absolutely reprehensible, and continue the same narrative by which we eschew empathy entirely in order to beat a woman while she's down, cackling like wicked banshees over the fragile mental state that put her there.
The trolling is excessive. Instead of sympathizing with a woman who saw no other option than to attempt to take her own life, the general reaction is of vitriol and abuse. It's generally accepted that people who are of a sound mind and healthy mental state don't attempt suicide--so in mocking Kehlani, those taking to Twitter to drag her are essentially making light of the mental illnesses that lead to suicide and suicide attempts. Mental Health Reporting tells us that 90 percent of those who die from suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. Why are we so desensitized that we think it's okay to publicly and willingly compose 140 character admonishments of those who are suffering? Where exactly are we, as a community, where the most vulnerable among us are picked on for those vulnerabilities?
One astute Twitter user made the following observation:
We're hypocrites for sure. The message is that it's okay for us to attack, mercilessly, but when we see the consequences of those attacks, we don't review our behavior--we continue doing it. Because it's unacceptable for a woman to fall, and for a woman to fall publicly, we'll do anything to make that known. What Kehlani's story reminds us of is that we're absolutely the worst for not being able to police ourselves and our peers in order to protect those who are most in need of protection. And so history continues to repeat itself.