Today I saw the news that Stevie Ryan, 33 committed suicide two days after her grandfather died. Apparently in a podcast following her grandfather’s death she made mention that she hoped that his passing wouldn’t pull her into a deeper depression.
I admit that I have no idea who Stevie Ryan is. From what I can tell she was someone who was initially popular on YouTube, then ended up hosting a show on VH1. The only reason we’re hearing about it is because she’s someone of relative fame.
Here’s the part that bothers me aside from the obvious. Prior to committing suicide she made casual reference to her depression and implied that the passing of her grandfather could potentially make her depression worse. I’ve been on the edge of taking my own life and on a couple of rare occasions made casual passing reference to it to someone I was close with. Luckily, the second time, when I was actually planning on going through with things and preparations had been made, loose ends tied up, etc., the friend took notice and called me out on it. We talked and I went inpatient the next day at McLean Hospital just outside of Boston. She had a public forum, though. She made mention of this on a podcast prior to going through with it.
Even if the podcast hadn’t been released prior to her taking her own life, did anyone else involved in the podcast reach out to her and press the issue? Look, I get it.. When you’re down the last thing you want is someone pestering you about being down. Frankly, it takes balls to say that you’re depressed in today’s world, especially in a public forum. There’s so much stigma and ignorance surrounding mental health that it’s frankly disgusting. Either way… What I’m getting at is that she dropped a hint; a warning almost that she was already in a low place and would likely go lower.
I don’t know if she had planned this or if it were a rash decision. I’ve seen studies talking about people committing suicide somewhat spontaneously/without prior planning, and the other group that plans meticulously. Not to knock those who work on such studies, but they don’t exactly have the chance to ask the ones that succeed.
My point is this… If someone is willing to talk about it, talk to them about it. Or don’t; just talk to them about anything. Sometimes just some human contact and interest in what they think or have to say may be helpful. It’s something.. If their mind is made up and they aren’t hesitating, there’s pretty much nothing you can do, but if you have a chance to show them some humanity and dignity, please, please do.
If you want to skip a rant, now is a good time to stop reading this post…
Did Stevie Ryan mean anything to me personally? No. I didn’t know her and won’t be so presumptuous as to read up on her and pretend I know anything about her or who she was. What I do know is suffering, and what suffering alone in a room full of people is like. Clearly being someone in the spotlight and having people around doesn’t make you any less susceptible to the isolation so frequently accompanies depression. I bet she smiled and laughed just as well as the rest of us that suffer from this affliction. It just sucks that the only time that depression and suicide are brought to light is when someone famous commits suicide. The world lost their shit when Robin Williams committed suicide. After a few weeks, that passed and we were on to whatever the next media craze was. If memory serves me, it had to do with a Kardashian; because..priorities? I’ll never understand that one.. Regardless, there are millions upon millions who struggle every day with this. At some point, those that don’t suffer from it need to wake up and realize it’s not weakness, it’s not a character flaw and it doesn’t make someone suffering any less worthy. Maybe they could even try to have some fucking empathy. For anyone saying it’s taking the “easy way out” or they dare to call them a coward, I defy them to put themselves in a situation that could very well end their life and see if they have the stones to actually go through with it. I’d bet damn good money that they’d piss themselves. I only say this because it’s the type of ignorant shit I’ve heard from my own family in reference to others, from countless strangers and co-workers of all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. The last thing anyone needs is commentary from a knuckle-dragging mouth-breather when they are really down to begin with.
I honestly don’t know what the solution is.. In the most connected world we have, we’re also the most isolated we’ve ever been. All I can say is this; look out for each other. If you have a hunch someone is in a state of real suffering, listen to them, and respect where they are coming from. Sometimes it’s not about solving the problem or offering solutions, but it’s more about bearing witness. It’s about joining someone, even if for a little while, in their own personal hell.