There’s been a couple of recent high-profile celebrity suicides. Earlier this month, celebrated fashion designed Alexander McQueen hanged himself in his London home at the age of 40. Then this week, actor Andrew Koenig was found dead from suicide in Vancouver after being missing for several days. These are just the most recent – there’s also David Foster Wallace, Spaulding Gray, Kurt Cobain, Ian Curtis, back to Diane Arbus, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath.
Of course, there are a lot of people who commit suicide who don’t make international headlines and don’t get websites doing slideshow retrospectives of their careers and bodies of work. But I don’t always know about those – it’s only the celebrities or the dramatic suicides (burning down a house while inside it to avoid foreclosure, for example) that come to my attention through the media. And every single time it happens, it stops me in my tracks.
These events remind me that the monster of depression can always get you. No matter how creative and inspired you are. No matter how much admiration and respect you earn from the fashion industry, the music industry, the world at large. No matter how privileged and rich you are. No matter how well known your struggles with depression are, no matter how many friends and strangers love and support you, no matter ho many people feel your loss. No matter how many years you’ve spent running from the monster. It can always catch you. It can always kill you. You are never and can never be safe.
I follow the twitters and blogs of a lot of alternative comedy people and the past week has been filled with concern about Koenig’s disappearance and ferverent please for help in finding him and making sure he was ok. This is even more notable from the comedy crowd who tweet only silly and humorous things and have essentially broken character to express their concern and love for Koenig. While I realize I can’t tell whether Koenig had actual love and support in his life just from reading a tweet from Doug Benson, I can see that there was a network of people who were really worried about him and who seem deeply affected by his loss.
If I committed suicide, it wouldn’t make any headlines. I’ve done a lot of work of which I’m very proud, but it wouldn’t be reviewed and featured on the Huffington Post. And certainly a generation of people wouldn’t have vivid memories of where they were when they heard about my death, as exists for Cobain. (I was in a car with my dad on Folsom Ave. in Boulder, C0lorado, driving south, when I heard it announced on the radio.) So the fact that the monster overtook these celebrities makes me feel even more vulnerable to succumbing.
Everything they did, everything they had, it didn’t help them. Couldn’t save them. What chance do I have?