Being a comic book geek, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Marvel Entertainment has decided to tackle the issue of suicide among teens and raise awareness about suicide prevention through a new story (released Wednesday for free through its website and app) featuring one of its trademark characters–Captain America.
With teen suicide rates at an all-time high and a rash of suicides caused by cyber-bullying gaining national attention in late 2010, Marvel’s timing couldn’t be more perfect. In October, teen suicide hit close to home for the youth of the church where I serve, which you can read about here and here. And just a few days ago, one of the church’s youth sent me a message asking for prayers for a student in their school who committed suicide.
I know it may seem ridiculous, especially to non-comic book fans, that a comic or story about super-hero like Captain America could help prevent suicide. But I challenge you to take a look. Marvel does fantastic work portraying the life of a teenage boy who is on the brink. What’s most compelling about the story, aside from the artwork, is the absence of text and dialogue. At the end, the reader is left wondering if the appearance of Captain America fighting the terrorist organization know as Hydra really happened or is a product of the teen’s imagination. Either way, it’s an incredible metaphor for how a teen (burdened with a heap of problems) might fight mightily against the thoughts and feelings of suicide before finally making the extremely difficult (but right) decision to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
As Stan Lee says (and he probably has already on this one): Excelsior Marvel and Captain America, Excelsior!