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Will Forte’s suicide drama series is getting slammed by a mental health organization.
The Last Man on Earth actor’s new Peacock project Expiration Date — about a man who spends a year plotting his own demise — is being called “wildly irresponsible” by the nonprofit group Inseparable.
“What a wildly irresponsible and callous concept that will, no doubt, endanger countless viewers,” said Inseparable founder Bill Smith in a statement. “Glamorizing suicide leads to contagion, that is a fact. At a time when our country is already suffering a mental health crisis compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left Americans’ mental wellbeing at a two-decade low, the last thing we need is a reckless show hinged on the question of ‘will he or won’t he’ succumb to the devastation of depression — an all too real and painful experience for millions of Americans.”
Expiration Date, from creators Harry and Jack Williams (Fleabag), was announced earlier this week as in development at the NBC Universal-owned streaming service. Expiration Date‘s official description says the show is about “a man [Forte] who is consumed by grief and finds a life insurance policy that covers suicide — provided that the individual doesn’t carry out the deed within one year. Content that his family will be provided for, Robin sets his expiration date and contemplates how he will spend his final year. It’s going to be a long 12 months.”
Smith acknowledged that his group doesn’t know the details of the show — let alone how the show will be, well, executed — yet insisted the show’s overall idea was enough to condemn the project.
“NBCUniversal would do well to rethink such a dangerous idea that could lead to an increase in suicide among viewers,” Smith continued. “This show shouldn’t air, period. Equally as important, Hollywood content creators should educate themselves on what’s helpful and what’s harmful. There is such a great need for education among storytellers about the power they have to shape narratives around mental health that can be preventative instead of damaging ones that may be the difference between life and death.”
“Suicide contagion” is defined by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services as “the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide and can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors. Direct and indirect exposure to suicidal behavior has been shown to precede an increase in suicidal behavior in persons at risk for suicide, especially in adolescents and young adults.”
NBC Universal did not have an immediate comment, but a source close to the production noted that the Williams brothers planned to work with mental health professionals in their crafting of the show.
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