Trope of the Week: Suicidal Girlfriend

If you’re experiencing suicidal or depressive thoughts, you are not alone. Click here to find a suicide lifeline in your country.

This trope was extremely common during the renaissance, but still persists today. A woman’s husband/boyfriend/fiance dumps her or dies, and so the woman kills herself in her despair. Unfortunately, this happens in real life, but the way that many pieces of media handle this trope can be cause for alarm. (Due to the spoiler-y nature of this trope, I will not be giving examples, but you can find plenty here.)

Why this can be bad: When it comes to media, many of the women who commit suicide are disposable. These women are either used to further the male character’s motivation (because he’s not really dead or he feels guilty) or as a way to bring tragedy to the piece because “look how much she loved him.” But this trivializes the issue that is so deeply and often felt worldwide. These female characters often don’t have lives outside of the male character’s either, which is why writers can so easily justify the suicide — because she has nothing else to live for! But this is the result of lazy characterization and rarely an honest, accurate representation of suicidal behavior and mental illness.

How you can fix it: Before you have your girl off herself, consider what her support system is like (family, friends), her goals in life, and her mental health. All of these will influence her. If she has a strong support system, a good life, and good health, she’s probably not going to be driven to suicide (though of course she’ll be devastated). If one of these is lacking, however, then it’s a more plausible outcome. However, if you’re going to go down this path, then you need to be respectful about it. This is not something to be taken lightly, used as a dramatic garnish.

Bottom Line: Do your research. Flesh out your female characters. Don’t treat suicide lightly.

One comment on “Trope of the Week: Suicidal Girlfriend

  1. jbgarner58 says:

    Reblogged this on J. B. Garner – Musings of a Starving Author and commented:
    Another important Trope of the Week! Suicide, alongside other things, is something to be handled carefully as part of a written work.

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