CAMDEN While having my morning cup of coffee and scrolling my newsfeed I was struck by a headline that’s become all to commonplace as of late. Keith Flint, the front man for the 90’s electronica group Prodigy, was found dead after taking his own life.
According to the World Health Organization every 40 seconds someone will commit suicide, and according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control males are four times more likely to die from suicide than are females. However, females are more likely to attempt suicide than are males. It’s a gender-less issue that crosses all socio-ecomic borders.
There’s a disconnect when it comes to tragedy with most celebrities. They’re characters paraded in front of TV screens and lauded in print. No more real than the Muppets or Scarlet O’Hara. 2018 had so many celebrity suicides it seemed like some some sort of bizarre trend. Anthony Bourdain, one of my favorite authors and celebrity gourmand hung himself while traveling in Germany. He was just one in a litany of celebrities that took their own life in 2018.
Even before 2018 a handful of artists, musicians and literary giants I respected, even loved, couldn’t go on. Hunter S. Thompson, a brilliant journalist and sometimes madman, killed himself in 2005 at his ranch. Thompson was the reason I got into journalism. The shock of his death echoes to this day and I can still feel those same emotions when as when I learned of his death. He worshiped Ernest Hemingway, who years before, ended his life in such a brutal and violent way it could have been the ending of one of his novels. These things cause ripples.
It’s one thing to see it played out in mass media. It’s a wholly different thing when it hits closer to home.
I’ve lost more than few friends to suicide, and that’s the tricky thing. You naturally get upset, even mad at the person for committing such a thoughtless act. But most of the anger stems from how much you cared about them. I’m not sure you ever really reconcile any of those feelings. Closure is hard enough to come by with the death of a loved one, doubly so in terms of suicide.
You search for answers, and honestly even with a letter or notion of what may have prompted the events, you never really get a satisfying response. The only person that could tell you why it happened remains silent.
Obviously, mental health is a huge factor and people with depression are at a higher risk of committing suicide. We need to change the stigma of mental illnesses. We’re a culture that respects power and despises perceived weakness. Maybe we should recognize the strength that it takes to admit you need help.
The scary thing is, there is no real way to stop someone from killing themselves. Sometimes there aren’t telltale signs. Like most things, we tend to view suicide through a lens of cliche. I can only offer this advice. If you are worried about someone, don’t keep silent. Don’t worry about the conflict that it may cause or the embarrassment of confronting the situation. Do what you have to.
If you, yourself are suicidal. There are resources. There are people that care. You are not alone. Please seek help.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a toll free call at 1-800-273-8255.