Remembering ‘All Star Superman’ On World Suicide Prevention Day
The World Health Organization reports that suicide is one of the three leading causes of death for people aged 15-44, and estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide. Statistics show a 60% increase in suicides over the last 45 years, with 90% of suicides associated with mental health disorders including depression. To combat the growing problem of suicide and attempted suicide, the WHO collaborates with World Federation for Mental Health and the International Association for Suicide Prevention on World Suicide Prevention Day. Observed in the United States as part of National Suicide Prevention Week, today is meant to raise awareness and transmit educational materials to persons or the loved ones of those affected by depression, addiction, self-injury and other topics concerning suicide.
It’s on this day that many comics readers remember what is arguably the most affecting moment of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s graphic novel All Star Superman, where the Man of Steel interrupts a young girl’s suicide attempt and reassures her that although things may seem painful and hopeless, she has the power to endure and that things will get better.
Originally published by DC Comics in 2006′s All Star Superman #10 (and available now in the collected All Star Superman graphic novel), the one-page scene became one of the most heavily proliferated Superman images on the Web and passed into Internet legend last year when a Reddit user credited it with dissuading them from committing suicide. In a post called “You Don’t Really Need To Exist To Inspire People. This Is Why Superman Is My Hero,” the Redditor called iamjackslackofhope wrote:
I have struggled with depression ever since I was ten years old. It had crippled me emotionally. I was 27 years old, no college degree, no job, and no will to live. I decided to kill myself after Christmas.
And then my sister’s boyfriend loaned me these comics. Superman is dying of radiation poisoning and is trying to complete all of his tasks before he dies, but he still takes the time to save a young girl who is about to jump off a building.
I cried for hours after reading this. I identified with that girl so much, ans I could almost hear Superman telling me that I’m stronger than I think.
Now, every time my depression starts to rear its ugly head, I just repeat his words and imagine him hugging me when I’m standing on the edge. It works better than any medication or therapy I’ve ever had.
Now I’m in college and at the top of my class. I have friends. I have a life. And I don’t care that he’s a fictional comic book character. He still saved me.
Depression and trauma can be overcome, but not without help. If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can find many more recovery resources, personal stories and community at To Write Love On Her Arms.