Being Mary Jane, the brainchild of Salim & Mara Brock Akil, is a TV show on BET starring Gabrielle Union. In its three seasons, it has tackled difficult issues that are usually avoided in the Black community like infidelity, body image, drug abuse, and racism. While the show has not shied away from difficult topics, Season 3, Episode 3, Sparrow, was arguably one of the most difficult and most moving for the audience. ****SPOILER ALERT****
In this episode, Mary Jane Paul (Union) finds out that Lisa (Latarsha Rose), the friend she recently gave the silent treatment committed suicide.
What can we learn from this episode?
You never know what someone else is going through. In Mary Jane’s Eulogy speech, she talks about how we should all stop lying and being fake, and just be completely honest with each other. Her speech was simultaneously the best and worst Eulogy speech ever. While it seemed like a train wreck at first and put a lot of family secrets on the table, it was good to remind the audience that everyone is going through something and has been through something even when we say we’re okay.
Always check on your friends. Mary Jane was upset with her friend, and rightfully so. But this episode was a reminder that different people handle things different ways. Something that may seem like no big deal to you might be pretty detrimental to someone else. And something you know you’ll eventually get over may be difficult to overcome for someone else.
Don’t blame yourself. The one good thing Mary Jane did was not blame herself, even though her mom and David tried to. Anytime someone close to you dies, your first thought is “What could I have done to prevent this?” That’s human nature, but you cannot wallow in that thought.
“M.J. and another black friend suggest that black women are too strong to commit suicide. That’s the problem. Trying to be the strong black woman is literally killing us. Black women are never allowed to be weak because we’re too busy holding it together for everybody else.” – Bene’ Viera, Theroot.com
Mental health issues are real. Unfortunately, our society tends to ignore mental health issues. We understand cancer, and diabetes, and even alcoholism (sometimes), but when someone is suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, the response is usually “Get over it”. Lisa was a successful doctor by day, but battled her demons in private by night. We can’t keep ignoring mental health issues.
This may be just a TV show, but this episode was so powerful and resonates with so many people because many of us know someone who either committed suicide, attempted suicide, or struggles with suicidal thoughts. It’s a very sad thing to watch on TV, but a good reminder to always think about mental health and stop sweeping it under the rug.
Being Mary Jane: Full Episode: Sparrow
If you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts or depression, please contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.