There are few words in the English language that have the impact
of the word "suicide". The act of it takes away a life, can rip
apart families, and suicide note or not, it always leaves us wondering
If you're a friend of someone or a family member who has to
hear the words, "he killed himself", it feels like Mike Tyson
threw a TNT-packed punch straight to the stomach, instantly
sucking every ounce of air from your body.
There is, and always will be a stigma attached to suicide, because
the words that usually follow it are depression, mental disorder,
or personal problems. And unlike most of the things that seem
to occur on a regular basis, we never really become immune to
the shock that comes with hearing that a person to their own
On Thursday, former major league pitcher Hideki Irabu was found
dead in his Los Angeles home, the victim of an apparent suicide. This
came on the heels of Tuesday's death of Jeret Peterson , a freestyle-
skier who won a silver medal in the Vancouver Olympic Games
just last year. Before that it was Dave Duerson, a former NFL player,
and before that it was Kenny McKinley of the Denver Broncos.
All ended their lives, killed by their own hand.
Irabu, Jaret, Duerson, and McKinley couldn't overcome their
demons. There were financial troubles and foul-ups with the law
and energy-sapping depression that didn't make life worth living.
I've often heard people wonder out loud, how people, who seemingly
have everything, suddenly take their lives. Depression doesn't
care about money, endorsement deals, or 25,000 square foot
mansions. It's a disease that can napalm jobs, friendships, and
families. There isn't a manual on how to deal with it, and it can
go away and lie dormant until something triggers it to come back
worse than it ever was before.
People who make judgements on those who have committed suicide
are as ignorant as they are callous. It's easy to condemn a man
for being so selfish as to commit suicide and leave a wife and
four kids behind. But there is no way to get an understanding of
the pain that person was in, the nightmares he suffered from,
and the demons that wore him down.
I used to think people who committed suicide were selfish. But I
will never judge again after talking with those who've suffered
from debilitating depression, the kind that keeps you in bed all
day and makes you go days without eating, showering, or even
brushing your teeth.
Does it seem like suicide among athletes and former athletes is
on the rise? Man, it sure appears that way. But its a problem that
is not just occurring in the athletic arena, teen suicide is on the
rise around the country, as well.
My friend, John Trautwein, is on a mission to prevent teen suicide
after discovering that his 15-year old son, Will, hung himself
in his room while his parents slept. (Please check the "Will-to-Live"
feature I did on the Trautwein's in May)
Will was a high school kid who excelled in the classroom
and athletics and seemingly had everything.
"We just didn't know, there were no signs," said Trautwein.
"Kids today have so much more pressure on them than we did.
"If it can happen to Will and our family, it can happen to anybodies".
I wish the suicide of Hideki Irabu is the last one I'm going to hear
about for awhile, but I highly doubt it. Things have a tendency to
get worse before they get better. But if you have a friend who might
be crying out for help, or getting into patterns of self-destructive
behavior, don't dismiss the warning signs before it's too late.
Be a friend, help them out.