In a Tizzy over Suicide

lee-thompson-youngI never troll discussions, but I know that when I post certain things, that the majority of posters are going to run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.  Such is the case in a recent discussion over the suicide death of former Jett Jackson TV series star Lee Thompson Young.  Immediately, there was much crying and gnashing of teeth, both over his death and especially because he killed himself.

My immediate question was… why?  After all, none of these people ever met the man, none of them had any personal connection to him, why was there such a brouhaha over his death, especially over his cause of death, from people who often hadn’t seen him on TV in years?

One guy was honest, apparently Young was on some TNT drama that was having it’s season finale preempted due to his death, but for the rest, they all tried desperately to rationalize their behavior.  These are the same people who, whenever anyone famous dies, whenever something bad happens to anyone in the media, they go on and on and on about how awful it was.  I personally don’t find it awful.  I accept that death is a natural part of life.  Everyone and everything dies.  Everyone I know, everyone I love, everyone I’ve ever met will eventually drop dead.  I will die.  This planet will die.  The universe will die.  That’s life.  I might think that if someone’s life is taken by another, we ought to pay attention to that, after all, I do that every week in the Religious Horror Show, but otherwise, we’re all dying a little every day and our feelings on the matter are entirely irrelevant.

Worse yet in this case, people were going on and on about how horrible suicide is and how nobody ought ever be allowed to take their own lives.  Why?  If Young decided that he wanted to kill himself, and I don’t pretend to have any idea what was going through his head and honestly, it doesn’t matter, why should he not be able to bring about the end of his own life if he finds a reason he thinks is valid and worthwhile?  But no, that’s not the position of the whiners.  There is no conceivable reason why anyone should ever be allowed to kill themselves, other than a few who acknowledged extreme, debilitating pain, so there!  But where do these people get the idea that they have any actual say in the matter, or that they ought to?

But that’s the thing, I don’t see suicide as a bad thing.  I see it as a choice.  It can be a good choice, it can be a bad choice, but it is a choice that one ought to be able to make for oneself.  Now sure, I think there are some really stupid reasons to kill yourself, like being dumped by your 16 year old boyfriend or girlfriend,  That’s pretty weak and that individual could probably be served by some counseling, not to talk them out of it, but to provide some perspective.  If they still want to throw themselves off a cliff, that’s fine with me.  It’s not my life, it’s not my place to make sure anyone lives by my standards.  After all, I don’t fear death a bit.

Ultimately, that’s what all of this comes down to, people’s fear of death and their desire to project it onto others. They don’t want to die so they don’t want anyone else to die.  They don’t want to see death.  They don’t want to hear about death and when death shows up in the media, especially when it’s someone they knew from their childhood, from the big or small screen or from music, they freak out and scream about how awful and horrible it is that someone dared to die!  Especially if it was by their own hand!  But why?  People have to die to make room for more people.  There has to be death in the world or we’d all starve.  It’s part of the life cycle.  We have to make our peace with death to have any hope of being truly alive and I think a lot of people never really do that.

So am I sorry that Young is dead?  I guess.  I never watched much that he was on and his character on FlashForward, coincidentally, committed suicide, but I have no real feelings about him one way or the other.  He’s no more than a face in a crowd to me, no more or less valuable as a human being than an aborigine in Australia or a rice farmer in China or some random person living in Germany or Argentina or Japan.  I don’t freak out when any of those people die, why should Young be any different?

I don’t wax philosophical much, but, to quote the great philosopher James T. Kirk, from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, “how we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.”  I’d argue that people need to actually deal with death, accept it, embrace it, acknowledge it’s universality, before that fear of dying ends up harming the only life that we actually have.  Wouldn’t that be a shame?

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