How Would I Know That This Could Be My Fate

Trigger warning: I talk about suicide in this. And to anyone reading this who knows me and thinks they should worry about me — I’m fine. Really. 

From the Euphoria Morning album artwork. 1999.

I was sad when I heard that David Bowie died. I felt blind-sided when Prince died. It just is sad when people who make music and art that reaches a lot of people die, because collectively we lose something that made existence better.

Thursday, when I heard that Chris Cornell died I felt my stomach drop, but when I found out that it was a suicide, something inside of me broke.

Obviously I didn’t know Cornell. I have no idea what he was like as a person. But I’ve loved his music since I was young. Superunknown and Down on the Upside are two of the most formidable albums for my emotional development, and I continued to follow Cornell’s career, even through Audioslave. I was listening to Euphoria Morning just last week (I still had it on cassette).

But this isn’t about his musical impact. It’s about what I got out of his words.

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To lose their lives out on a limb…

[1] Brittany Murphy died a few weeks ago at the age of 32. I do not mean to exploit her in any way. The speculation surrounding her untimely passing just provides an example of a social problem that I feel needs addressing.

When news broke of Brittany Murphy’s death, there was speculation about drug use and/or an apparent eating disorder. This type of speculation always happens when a celebrity dies. Her husband and her mother did an interview this morning on the Today Show.

Let me say first, I don’t think they should feel the need to speak about their wife/daughter’s death. It’s personal for them and just because Brittany Murphy starred in movies (and, my personal favorite, was the voice of Luanne), it doesn’t mean that the public has to have an explanation of her death that goes beyond the public record/coroner’s report.

During the interview, her family denied that Brittany had either a drug problem or an eating disorder. I don’t doubt that they believed these statements. Brittany Murphy was frighteningly thin at some of her last public appearances, but this could be due to a lot of factors, only two of which being drugs or an eating disorder. I don’t know if either of these were the case, and I’m not going to speculate.

What does bother me is this:

Almost no one in this situation will ever admit that their loved one has/had a drug problem, an eating disorder, or any type of mental illness.

What are we so ashamed of?

There is still an unfortunate stigma attached with problems of the mind, and it’s disheartening. One shouldn’t be ashamed of an eating disorder or a drug addiction or depression or schizophrenia or any such “problem.” Nor should family members try to deny it, for whatever reason. It’s not your fault if someone you love has a mental illness of any sort. Nor does it mean that they cannot live a reasonable life or gain any sense of well-being. They just might need some help.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The problem is that we see these things as “illnesses” that carry stigma in the first place.


[1]Title taken from “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley… yes, I know it’s in poor taste.

Please Hollywood, Don’t Do This.

ABC News is reporting that the much-fabled Jeff Buckley biopic that has been in the works for, well, what seems like longer than Jeff Buckley’s actual music career, has its choice of who is to play Jeff Buckley narrowed down to two actors: James Franco and Robert Pattinson.

Let me admit that I am skeptical of this report. First, it’s inaccurate as it seems to imply that “Hallelujah” was released posthumously, which is false. “Hallelujah” is on Grace (Track 6), released in 1994, while Jeff Buckley was still alive. Second, rumors of this film have been floating around for years. Third, I don’t want to believe it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against either of these actors. From the little I know about acting and the work of theirs I have seen, I think either could portray Jeff Buckley. James Franco is certainly a dead-ringer for him, and Robert Pattinson definitely has the hair for it. Of course if the singing is not dubbed, then all bets are off. They’d have to have a Grace-off, winner take the role.

But Hollywood, don’t do this, don’t make another biopic about a great and fabled musician.

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