The news of tWitch’s suicide this week was surprising. I thought he had it all, a career, beautiful wife and three children. I was an Ellen DeGeneres show watcher. At 4:00 I was ready to sit down for a bit, maybe have some popcorn. It always made me happy, all the things she did to help others. tWitch was Ellen’s side kick on the show, an amazing dancer, always, smiling. I remember his wife coming on the show, dancing with him. I remember the birth of their last child. But what we never know is what is going on inside someone’s head, which is where most of us live.
This morning I came across a CNN Opinion piece by Mel Robbins about tWitch and our views of suicide. She hit the nail on the head. I hope you read it. People who commit suicide aren’t selfish. They may not want to end their life but they want the pain to end, whatever the source of that pain: mental illness or situational.
I know this as someone who has attempted suicide and lost my daddy to suicide. After I attempted suicide, I went to a therapist, the late Jon Garlinghouse, who specialized in suicide. I asked him, “Why did I go to this place.” “It was an option that provided relief” he wisely told me. It was true, I was so tired of the pain resulting from the end of relationship, I wanted relief, I wanted the pain to end.
I remember in a writing class, I once wrote and shared about my daddy’s suicide. A classmate spoke up, declaring I should be mad at my father for doing this to me. What she said pissed me off. I had watched my father struggle all his life with his mental illness and alcoholism. He was tired damn it and I understood that. I was mostly sad that my daddy had suffered so much pain, that it got bad enough he wanted it to end.
As Mel states, “This is why I feel so adamant that we change the way we think and talk about suicide. Saying this is selfish or the fault of the victim is simply ignorant and tremendously hurtful to family members who loved someone who lost their battle.”