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Academy’s Robin Williams Tweet Criticized by Suicide Prevention Group

A tweet from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences about Robin Williams’ death has proven popular, but not with one suicide-prevention group.

The tweet, sent out Monday at 5:56 p.m., shows the genie from the 1992 “Aladdin” with the message, “Genie, you’re free,” which is a line from the film. The item was retweeted more than 320,000 times and received a staggering 69 million impressions. The Internet and Twitter have been filled with tributes to Williams, who voiced the genie in the film.

However, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention worries about the subliminal message. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the AFSP, expressed concern about the tweet, telling the Washington Post Tuesday, “Suicide should never be presented as an option,” before adding, “(it) presents suicide in too celebratory a light.”

Several others also tweeted the line from the film, including Evan Rachel Wood. Her message was retweeted 100,000 times while Buzzfeed called the Academy tweet “a real tearjerker.” But since the Academy hands out Oscars, its tweet got the most attention, including positive mentions on “Good Morning America” and in PR Week.

After Williams’ death was confirmed Monday, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention posted a a statement on its website in response. In the Tuesday posting, the org points out that suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., killing someone every 13 minutes. “We have to do more to prevent such tragic deaths through greater awareness of mental health issues, warning signs, effective interventions and treatment,” said the statement. “Suicide is preventable and we all have a role to play to end the tragedy of suicide.”

Some people who retweeted the Academy’s message added comments. A few balked, but many were positive, adding such statements as “Says it all” and “Immediate lump in the throat.” Reps from the Academy had no comment and reps from AFSP were unavailable.

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