Trigger warning: this article discusses suicide and may be triggering.
Because September is Suicide Awareness Month, it’s important to discuss characterizations of suicide in today’s media. One show that has a subtle yet meaningful message about the importance of suicide prevention is The Victim’s Game. It is a 2020 Taiwanese crime show that was created by Netflix. It centers around Yi-jen and his life as a forensic scientist with Asperger’s. He encounters a crime scene with DNA linked to his estranged daughter, and pursues the case with Hai-yin, a journalist. He later discovers that she is involved in an elaborate suicide chain orchestrated by a group leader. This show is very bold and daring because mental health is not openly discussed in Asia - it can be seen as a sign of shame and weakness to admit mental illness. The show pushes boundaries because it addresses many elements of depression and suicide that are deeply rooted in Asian society.
The show accurately illustrates some common reasons for suicide in Asia such as being transgender and overworked. While Americans fight for equal rights, Asian societies do not yet have such a movement. Specifically, members of the LGBTQ community do not have a strong voice and representation in Asia. They are less likely to be accepted by their friends and family, and most often do not have a strong support system. By watching this show, viewers can understand that these issues are real and that real people are going through the same situations. It may spark someone to reach out and offer some kind words to others. The writers of the show did an excellent job portraying this message, especially in the last episode. The show wraps up on a positive note with Yi-jen reuniting with his daughter, Hsiao-meng. He goes to pick her up from the juvenile detention center she is being released from. It’s raining, and Hsiao-meng comes out with an umbrella. She walks up to her father and extends the umbrella to him. The scene signifies how lending a helping hand is often the only thing that one needs. The entire show depicts various characters suffering from emotional trauma and loneliness. The group leader convinces members of the suicide chain that they are helping others by completing others’ last wishes before dying. However, the umbrella scene signifies how it is more beneficial to lend a helping hand by being there for those who are lonely as opposed to convincing them that death is the only way out. It re-establishes how every victim of the suicide chain could have been saved if someone had extended an “umbrella” or a helping hand.
“Living often requires more courage.”