News of suicide can hit hard
by Chris Collett, columnist
August 15, 2014 07:06 PM | 2845 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chris Collett
Chris Collett
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The biggest news story last week has been the death of comedian Robin Williams. The fact that his death was due to suicide helped to sensationalize this story.

Followers of this story on the Internet had differing opinions. There were some saddened by his loss while others referred to him as selfish and a coward.

Some of the comments were so harsh that his daughter said that she would be taking a reprieve from social media in order to shield herself from reading the ridiculously evil comments.

I didn’t know Robin Williams nor do I know any of his family. I only know him through television and remember laughing at his jokes. He seemed to have a brilliant mind with his quick wit and humor.

The first person I can remember committing suicide was someone my dad knew from his childhood when I was only a child. The second time in my memory occurred while attending Cherokee High School. I will not divulge the names out of respect for the deceased and their families. However, I have known of many since that time in my life.

Had Robin Williams not been a celebrity, we wouldn’t have known about this tragedy. More importantly, his family would not be enduring the horrid comments from a segment of the public.

Cherokee County has more suicides in a year than many of you might think. Thankfully, our local press has been compassionate to the feelings of the bereaved and not reported these incidents unless there was something more to the incident that needed to be reported.

It amazes me, although I don’t know why, that some folks feel the need to be cruel by name calling after an incident such as that of Mr. Williams. Just because he is a celebrity, does that mean his family doesn’t have feelings like the rest of us?

Imagine that we had a local press without any ethical values whatsoever. Imagine if they reported on every suicide in Cherokee County.

And what if the same type comments were made about someone local? At a minimum it would destroy the family. And it would be all for the sake of selling the news.

As Woody Harrelson said in the movie “Game Change,” “The news isn’t about news anymore. It’s about entertainment.”

I’m blessed to be an educated man. But I assure you before I continue that I have no training in psychology or psychiatry. What I do have is professional experience with suicide victims and their families.

We don’t have the power to look inside the heart or mind of a person. Only God has that power.

We have no idea what struggles that person we pass on the sidewalk has going on in their lives. We can’t even look into the hearts and minds of those we love. To claim to be able to do so would be to rank ourselves up there with God. That’s a bad idea in any situation.

The truth is I don’t really know what causes some people to think they have no alternative. It saddens me to think that anyone would feel responsible for someone taking this action. We all just do the best we can.

To call those who choose to end their own lives selfish or cowards is far from Godly. It’s atrocious.

The truth is most of us could use a little help from time to time. You may ask why if someone needs help they don’t ask for it. Even many organizations have early warning systems in place and encourage people to seek help if they need it.

That’s an easy answer. And I speak from experience without one ounce of shame.

Admitting you have a problem can, and often does, cause one to become ostracized. Admitting it at work can cause your every future decision to be questioned. So, although these organizations say these programs are there for those in need, in reality they are hypocritical in nature.

Then we wonder why people don’t reach out for help. They don’t because a great stigma is attached to doing so by much of society. No one wants to be looked upon as weak.

If anyone reading this needs help, I pray you get it. You may lose friends. I did. And then one day I realized that true friends will stick by you through the good and the bad.

As for the others, my happiness is more important than pleasing the masses.

Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.

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