Kurt Cobain and the importance of bipolar disorder awareness


Trigger warning: mental illness and suicide.

Last Wednesday would have been Kurt Cobain’s 52nd birthday. Cobain was considered the voice of a generation in the early 1990’s.

People claim that Cobain hated fame and that was to blame for his death.  At their height, Nirvana’s 1991 album, Nevermind became iconic. The following year, it skyrocketed the Billboard charts, beating Michael Jackson’s Dangerous to Number 1.


Kurt Cobain’s death

On the 8 April 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home. The death was ruled a suicide.

In the aftermath, it was feared that there would be copycat behaviour. According to research conducted by NCBI, this did not occur, however, there was an increase in calls to counselling and suicide prevention hotlines.



Risk factors

Suicide is often complex, with more than one causation. According to Beyond Blue, there are a number of risk factors that increase a likelihood of someone taking their own lives. These include: mental illness, previous suicide attempts, substance abuse and suicide in the family.


According to former psychiatric nurse and Kurt Cobain’s cousin Beverly Cobain, a number of these factors were present in his life, some starting in childhood. She told Health Day that a number of men in the family had either taken their own lives or had died due to falls while intoxicated.

Cobain had a battle with mental illness for most of his life. His substance abuse and depression were well known. But that may not have been the whole story. Ms. Cobain claimed that Kurt had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as a child and depression and bipolar disorder as an adult. Whether he was officially diagnosed with BD is debated, but Ms. Cobain insisted that he had signs, including extreme anger.

Facts about bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings from mania or hypomania (more on that later) and severe depression.

There are a number types of bipolar: bipolar I, bipolar II, mixed, rapid cycle and cyclothymic.

Bipolar I: bipolar I is categorised by manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes can include an uncontrollable euphoria, restlessness, wreckless spending, an inability to sleep, not feeling tired, a sense of grandiosity and inflated self – esteem.

One of the dangers of mania is that people can become psychotic. When this happens, immediate hospitalisation is crucial.

Bipolar II: bipolar II is characterised by hypomanic episodes and depression. Hypomania is defined as a ‘less extreme’ form of mania. Signs can include: ‘flight of ideas’, rapid speech (also known as pressured speech), grandiosity, increased energy and a lack of need for sleep.

Mixed: this isn’t a ‘type’ of bipolar per se but rather something that can happen in either bipolar I or II. Mixed episodes are when a person experiences manic or hypomanic and depressive symptoms at the same time. For example, a sufferer may have a depressed mood, but be restless or productive.

Rapid cycle: rapid cycle is when someone has at least four mood episodes within a year. This is double the number of episodes of other bipolar types. Some experience a mixture of mania, hypomania and depression.


Why is this important when talking about Kurt Cobain and other people?

I never knew Kurt Cobain (obviously), so I do want to be careful. I’m also not an expert on bipolar, so please access other resources for nore (and most likely better) information.

One thing needs to be made clear. Bipolar is NOT depression. Both illnesses require different treatments. So, I believe that when we talk about public figures and mental illness, I think it’s important that the media and society as a whole offers accurate terms for the illnesses. This is what troubled me about a Facebook post that commemorated Kurt Cobain for his birthday.


If anyone is in need of help, please  get it. If you suspect you have bipolar disorder, there are resources from Beyond Blue and Black Dog Institute that can offer information. Black Dog Institute also has a checklist for bipolar disorder that can indicate if you have the condition. However, only a doctor can diagnose you and offer a course of treatment.

Final note: while this post has been researched, this does not necessarily mean my analysis or  descriptions of bipolar are entirely correct or represent experiences of all people with the condition. If you have bipolar disorder or are a health professional with knowledge or expertise in the condition, please leave your knowledge, experiences and any corrections that you think should be made in the comments below.



Gillette ad controversy: is the media and social media trustworthy?

U.S. razor company, Gillette, caused a furore last month for their viral ad ‘The Best Men Can Be’.

If social and traditional media was anything to go by, this was an outrage. They were attacking boys and men — their primary consumers. This was #MeToo on steroids.

Hashtag #boycottgillette trended on Twitter.


So you’d assume that the ‘anti masculinity’ campaign would destroy Gillette. Well, no. Apparently, the campaign was actually positive.

Many U.S. consumers applauded the campaign

According to Upworthy, two studies showed that most consumers looked favourably on the campaign.

Data collected by Morning Consult found that more consumers believed that Gillette shared their values than before the campaign (42% before, 71% after). 65%of study respondents said they were more likely to buy Gilette products since the campaign.

Over four fifths (84%) of women and more than three quarters (77%) of men were either in favour or felt neutral towards the campaign. Data from Ace Metrics produced similar results.

Is the media and social media out of touch?

I am always careful when it comes to studies, especially on social issues. Too often, so – called ‘studies’ are conducted purely to confirm one’s own biases.

I don’t know the sample size of the Morning Consult study. I am also not familiar with Ace Metrics.

But, lets assume for a moment that both sets of data are a fair representation of Americans’ overall attitudes toward Gillette.That means traditional and social media did not represent mainstream public opinion. And maybe it’s not the only time.

Traditional media still a major source of news for the public

I’ve heard that U.S cable networks such as CNN and Fox are losing loyalty among the public. Meanwhile, independent news sources, including YouTube channels are rising in popularity.

Australians, too,  seem to also have little faith in the media.

A Roy Morgan study showed that journalists are generally not trusted by the public. Inaccuracies left uncorrected and biases were two major criticisms. Out of radio, TV and print news, most people surveyed, (66% for national news, 56% for world news) gained their news from TV. Print media gained the most negative responses.

Social media also deemed untrustworthy

While traditional media has its critics, social media hasn’t faired well, either. 2018 saw a backlash against social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

According to Reuters Institute, Digital News Report found that social media was facing a worldwide decline in both popularity and trust, with the U.S. leading the charge. News item were also not shared on social media as frequently as it used to

Apps such as WhatsApp and email news services are rising in popularity. However, many reported being annoyed at being bombarded with emails and notifications.

Personally, I’ve gotten increasingly annoyed by the number of statuses and ‘news’ articles that turned out to be hoaxes or just untrue. It’s made me cynical about sharing anything and now I mostly ignore a lot of articles I see posted.

I’ve also found that so much on Facebook is heavily biased, often veering to one extreme on the political/ ideological spectrum. People are often hard Left or hard conservative, with very few willing to look at multiple sides to an issue. Look, people can publish what they want. I’d just advise viewers to be wary of articles that are posted. If you read it, Google it and see if the article is factual. Many times, they aren’t.


Social and traditional media have issues with trust. To mainstream journalists, no offence, but pull your head in. Your viewers/ readers/ listeners deserve the truth, not just political propaganda.

What did you think of the Gillette ad and do you have any news outlets you particularly like? Let me know in the comments




Retail and Marketing

Is SPF 50+ sunscreen worth it?

Ultra 50 plus sunscreen
Popular and alleged ‘Cancer Council’ approved sunscreens come under scrutiny

Australians are repeatedly urged to ‘slip’ on a sleeved shirt, ‘slop’ on sunscreen and ‘ slap’ on a hat.

Now, being sunburnt is not fun. But is sunscreen all it’s cracked up to be? Maybe not.

Are sunscreens worth the hype?

Here’s a real kicker. Tests, including one reported on by Choice in 2018 revealed that most sunscreens they studied did not meet their marketed SPF claim. However, when manufacturers were contacted, most defended their product and claims. 

Cancer Council: can they be trusted?

A number of sunscreens have been found not to live up to their ratings. But what about the ones with the Cancer Council signature and logo? Surely if a product has the logo of the biggest cancer charity and education resource that the products would be reputable?

Well, not really.

According to, the Cancer Council received a furious backlash from parents of toddlers after their children received severe rashes and burns after applying their Pepper Pig sunscreen.

Take this next finding with a grain of salt, but I found it interesting. Cancer Council sunscreen has been reviewed on Product Review, and from what I’ve read, many customers were not happy. A number of customers report severe sunburn, even when they applied the sunscreen as recommended.

So maybe take logos, as well as SPF claims with a grain of salt.


So, what is the answer? 

People have told me that zinc sunscreen is better than cream.

People are often warned to avoid the sun in the afternoon completely, if possible. If it’s not possible or you’re at an outdoor event, (like The Red Hot Summer Tour where I was burned to a crisp) here’s what you can do:


Don’t where sleeveless or short sleeved t – shirts. Best to have the sleeve go around the elbow, if not below.

Shorts/ pants

For heaven’s sake, women, DON’T wear short shorts or skirts, you’ll regret it, trust me! Your knees will cop it. For about a week, I’ve had to apply Aloe Vera cream and put up with, at times, excruciating pain from sunburn. Make sure shorts/ skirt cover the knee at least. 


Wide – brimmed, of course. It helps if it has a string around the neck to hold it in place, too. The hats you could buy from the Red Hot Summer Tour were really good.


Although they may be uncomfortable in Summer, I think closed is best. Wear shoes that cover the top of your feet, because they can get sunburnt, too. For me, I did get sunburnt on the top of the feet, (I wore sandals at the RHST).


Could festival/ event organisers make changes for the future?

There was a bit of shade around the outskirts at the RHST, but not actually in front of the stage where all the performers were. Could this be a possibility for future festivals? I’m not sure. You weren’t allowed to have summer umbrellas in front of the stage, either. I get that would have been due to safety concerns. I just wonder if there could have been a tarp or some sort of covering over where most people were sitting. Or at least have the event in an area with plenty of trees (there was surprisingly very few at North Gardens in Ballarat, Victoria where the RHST was).


If you’d like to see some pictures, check out my Instagram @saraharnetty.