BerlinWhen it comes to suicide, the media is taboo. We do not report on the everyday cases in which people see no other way out than to end their lives. This non-reporting is intended to prevent people with suicidal thoughts from feeling encouraged to emulate. The press council calls for “restraint” in the ethical standards of the press code, which are binding for us: “This applies in particular to the naming of names, the publication of photos and the description of more detailed circumstances.” However, exactly the opposite happens when the victim was so prominent like the model Kasia Lenhardt. The suicide of goalkeeper Robert Enke was also discussed very openly. The foundation dedicated to him supports projects that research the disease depression – in order to provide help to affected people.

In these cases, media reporting will have less likely to have encouraged people at risk of suicide than, on the contrary, talking about the psychological needs of people who are not doing as well as glamorous photos have you believe. Burn-out, bullying, self-doubt, self-hatred: Even celebrities are not immune to life crises, for which there are therapies.

Does this taboo really make sense?

But if it is helpful to talk about this taboo, what is the point of keeping silent about the circumstances that led less prominent people to obliterate themselves? Ella, the woman who set herself on fire on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz last Tuesday, was talked about on social networks within minutes, and later on the online pages of many newspapers. At first there was mistakenly talk of a man who was infected in front of a department store. In a very short time, a news agency turned Ella into a “trans person”, as if trans people were a wondrous species of human species.

The tendency to depression is not innate in many transgender people, it is often the result of the most difficult living conditions. Healing the soul is the job of therapists, but there aren’t enough of them – especially not since Corona. The psychologist who looked after Ella is now heartbroken: The fact that he could not cure his patient’s post-traumatic stress disorder and now read about her death – this shocked the longtime therapist, who could actually enjoy his retirement long ago.

I didn’t meet Ella, but we have a mutual friend. The two had an appointment to go to the cinema last Sunday. My friend is horrified not only by Ella’s death, even more by the cell phone photos of the dying woman that are circulating on social networks: a helper, she suspects, took one of the pictures and distributed it. She shows me a completely different photo: intimate, silly, in a good mood, the two grimaces in front of the camera. Ella was full of plans, highly intelligent, her attitude positive. She would have started a job at Tesla next January.

Trans or cis, escaped or not, colored or white: does any of these ascriptions explain what prompted Ella to act? Some people carry problems with them whose depth we may not even guess. Ella’s death makes no sense, but at least the beautiful moments together should be remembered. That is why our mutual friend asks me: “Name her name!”


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