Tallahassee Man Advocates to Get Controversial Costume Removed from Walmart

Posted at 5:30 PM, Oct 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-26 18:11:35-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A controversial Halloween costume has been pulled off Walmart's website after lots of criticism including some from a Tallahassee man who helped get the word out about the costume.

Jim Russell bikes to work every day wearing a reminder of where he's been. Years ago, he thought about taking his own life as he was struggling with depression.

"I was getting into the planning stages. I didn't know what was wrong with me at the time, and I was very fortunate to connect with a mental health professional," said Russell, a mental health advocate. 

Having battled mental illness, Russell said a costume accessory he saw online hit a nerve.

Russell explained that, "One of them said it was called 'Goodbye, Cruel World.' Another one was saying 'Suicide Scar Wounds.'"

What was posted on Walmart's online marketplace was a razor blade make-up kit.

"It really makes me feel pretty awful, when I know there's people out there that are not seeking help or don't even know that help is available," Russell lamented, "so it really compelled me to speak up and do something."

Russell contacted Walmart and got several others to join him. The company not only responded, but it also pulled the product off its site and sent out this official statement:

“This costume is appalling and it was unacceptable for a third-party seller to list it on our marketplace. It clearly violated our prohibited items policy and we removed it when it was brought to our attention.”

"How it got there in the first place -- they need to examine that. I actually reached back out to them and said, 'Now's the time to improve,'" Russell said.

Russell has been trying to track down the maker of the costume. He said that getting a company like Walmart to stop selling it was a step in the right direction.

"It came back around, and we made a difference. And I think, 'Is there more work that can be done, and is it still being sold out there?' Sure is, but we made a little impact, and I think that's a good thing."