WASHINGTON — As fans try to express their sorrow over the passing of Robin Williams, one tweet posted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has come under fire for its message.
The tweet features a still from the 1992 animated Disney movie “Aladdin” in which Williams was the voice of the Genie. The two, Genie and Aladdin are embracing and the caption reads, “Genie, you’re free.”
“While we understand the intention here was not to do anything either offensive or dangerous, in reality, we don’t want to convey a message to those who are struggling that suicide is the way out,” says Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
For those not struggling with depression or harboring suicidal thoughts, this tweet is emotional and kind, Gebbia says, adding that those who do struggle with depression see things differently.
“We don’t want to romanticize or glamorize suicide,” he says. “That could be dangerous and there could be copycats.”
Instead, Gebbia wants to send the message that help is available for those who need it.
Visitors to the foundation’s website have gone from 6,000 a day to 100,000, and calls to the national suicide crisis line have doubled, Gebbia says.
“I think this is really a good thing — that this is going to … hopefully educate more people.”