As you can imagine, this didn't sit well with the general public and advocates for suicide awareness.
Jimmy Palmiotti, who is writing the ongoing Harley Quinn series, attempted to apologize for the mess up saying, "I should have put it clearly in the description that it was supposed to be a dream sequence with Amanda and I talking to Harley and giving her a hard time. I should have also mentioned we were thinking a Mad magazine /Looney Tunes approach was what we were looking for...I am sorry for those who took offense, our intentions were always to make this a fun and silly book that broke the 4th wall, and head into issue 1 with a ongoing story/adventure that is a lot like the past Powergirl series we did. I hope all the people thinking the worst of us can now understand that insulting or making fun of any kind was never our intention."
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention had already voiced their disapproval; calling the contest "insensitive and potentially dangerous," and decried their choice to not go with a more hopeful message.
DC came out again and said, "The purpose of the talent search was to allow new artists an opportunity to draw a single page of a 20-page story. True to the nature of the character, the entire story is cartoony and over-the-top in tone, as Harley Quinn breaks the 4th Wall and satirizes the very scenes she appears in. DC Entertainment sincerely apologizes to anyone who may have found the page synopsis offensive and for not clearly providing the entire context of the scene within the full scope of the story."
Does DC truly understand why the uproar over the panel or is this a PR ploy to ease the tension? Does it matter?
Suicide is too often used as a punchline or lightly referenced with little to no thought given to the weight it carries. A comic book company, who ideally caters to younger viewers, may not know that this generation is inundated with violent images. On top of the that, cyber bullying is in the headlines more and more in reference to suicide. When an image of a comic book character is shown in a cartoony way, that sends a message.
This is no longer a case of "Oh, it's just a comic book." We live in a time where we have a responsibility to understand what are youth are going through. DC Comics would do well to publish a special suicide awareness story. Not as a way to say they are sorry but because it's necessary and the right thing to do.