Robin Williams tribute tweet prompts suicide concern

A tweet from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences following the death of Robin Williams Image copyright The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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Following the suicide of Robin Williams on Monday, fans poured their grief into cyberspace, filling Facebook and Twitter feeds with tributes, movie quotes and scenes.

One tweet from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - otherwise known as the Oscars - has sparked an online controversy, however.

The Academy tweeted, "Genie, you're free," alongside an iconic image from the animated Disney movie Aladdin. After more than 320,000 retweets, many commentators across the Internet are wondering if this viral tweet could cause more harm than good.

"It violates well-established public health standards for how we talk about suicide," writes Caitlin Dewey for the Washington Post.

"Adolescents are most at risk of suicide contagion; in recent years, groups like AFSP [American Foundation for Suicide Prevention] have also become particularly attentive to the role the internet plays in romanticising notorious or high-profile deaths, something it has long asked both the news and entertainment industries to avoid."

Although the Academy certainly had good intentions, the speed of social media often makes it difficult to communicate the subtle issues surrounding difficult topics such as suicide.

"Despite the Academy's sentiment, suicide is not freedom," writes Holly Thomas for the Independent. "It's a cry for help that always comes too late."

She continues:

"To intimate, however subtly or unintentionally that taking your own life is a liberating action, is irresponsible and dangerous. While someone who is not suicidal might look at the picture of the genie and find comfort, someone whose mind is weighed heavy by depression may see something dangerously different."

When dealing with suicide, our expressions of grief ultimately should not end up harming those who are still living, says Thomas.

"Messages of hope for the dead need to be categorically distinct from those we send to the living," she concludes. "Only the living read Twitter."


A bombing campaign with a different goal - President Barack Obama announced plans to increase military aid and airstrikes over Kurdistan on Monday, but his motives aren't about getting back into the Iraq War, according to Slate's Fred Kaplan.

The US president's announcement is about responding to the humanitarian crisis in Kurdistan, he says, and supporting a Kurdish population that is increasingly a valuable US ally in the region.

"It's become very clear that, if Iraq - whether as a centralised state or a loose federation - has any hopes of ever becoming stable, much less democratic, a thriving Kurdistan must be part of it, even a model for it," Kaplan writes.


State-controlled Christianity - China announced last Thursday that increasing efforts to nationalise Christianity will benefit the country economically and culturally, writes the Diplomat's Zachary Keck.

"The CCP has increasingly turned to Chinese nationalism as the ideational complement to economic growth and prosperity," he writes. "The 'Sinicisation of Christianity' would be consistent with its drive to push Chinese nationalism."

Keck says that possible reasons for China's boost for this programme are the growing number of Christians in the country, illegal and underground churches, and the threat of foreign influences.

"The fact that the Chinese leaders this week discussed the importance of nationalising the Christian faith suggests that anti-foreign sentiment is part of the motivation behind the campaign," he concludes.


Independence could be hazardous to Scottish health - Scotland votes on independence next month, but many citizens still don't know how it could affect healthcare and research, according to the Conversation's James Mittra, Gill Haddow, and Michele Mastroeni .

"The Scottish government's white paper on independence includes a relatively small section on health, social care and the NHS [National Health Service]," they write.

Ultimately, the self-governed healthcare system's success will revolve around ensuring that current levels of funding continue, say Mittra, Haddow and Mastroeni.

"Is Scottish independence bad for your health? It may seem like a dramatic question to ask, but it's fundamental to our future," they warn. "Citizens of Scotland should have the answer before they head to the polls in September."


A plea for freedom - Jason Rezaian, a US-Iranian journalist, and his wife and fellow journalist Yeganeh Salehi have been unjustly detained in Iran for three weeks, according to Mr Rezaian's mother, Mary Breme Rezaian.

"We do not know why they were taken, who took them and what charges - if any - they face," she writes in the Washington Post.

Her son and daughter-in-law are dedicated to showing the true Iran to the West, she says, and Iranian officials must release them.

"My son and daughter-in-law have committed themselves to dispelling many of these misconceptions through their nuanced and fair reporting. And, once released, they will continue to do so in a country they both call home," she writes.

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Ukraine is currently refusing to allow aRussian aid convoy heading for the rebel-held eastern portion of the country from crossing the border over fears that it could be a pretext for invasion. The International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] says it is still waiting for details of the supplies carried by the 280 trucks. Russian commentators offer their views.

"According to a Vedomosti source in the Russian Defence Ministry, the information campaign over a Russian invasion under the guise of humanitarian aid was initiated by the Ukrainian authorities in order to cover up a humanitarian disaster in Luhansk and Donetsk that they previously denied." - Aleksey Nikolskiy in Vedomosti.

"In fact, it is Russia who should have the biggest concern. Since no military escort was allowed for the convoy … there is a high probability that the humanitarian cargo intended for deprived people in Luhansk and Donetsk will be used to 'feed' the personnel of the anti-terrorist operation." - Yelena Gamayun in Moskovskiy Komsomolets.

"After the controversial accession of Crimea and because of the continued unofficial support for rebels fighting in the south-east of Ukraine, it is stupid [of Russia] to expect to be given complete credibility." - Pavel Aptekar in Vedomosti.‎

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