Everyday in this country we lose 75 men to suicide. Some are well known, like Junior Seau and some are just regular guys who are going to work each day. Why do they do it? We can speculate, we can debate, we can research, and we can try to lay blame on things like Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), depression, or alcohol and drug abuse to name a few. Will we ever know for sure why someone makes that fateful choice to quit living? Probably not in the near future. And then a tragedy like this is complicated by the fact that the person who dies by suicide appears to have everything going for them. From what I have read and heard about Junior Seau, he was a great guy, had great kids, had made a tremendous amount of money playing football, did a ton of charity work, and had more friends than most of us could dream of having. And yet he couldn’t go on. Doesn’t make sense, does it?
Other things that I have read and heard about Mr. Seau was that he was a true warrior when it came to playing football. The guy play injured, the guy played the game at a 100 mph, and his position at linebacker demanded that fear simply not be shown. Yet somewhere in his soul he was haunted by demons. If he was suffering from depression, which by all acounts he may have been, than most of you who follow us here at Face It probably have a sense of what he lived with. On the outside Mr. Seau was as tough as they come and on the inside he was alone with his thoughts of worthlessness, hopelessness, and despair. If you met him on the street he would probably have shook your hand, offered up a kind smile, and listened to you talk about your memories of him playing football…all the while telling himself that he was a burden and those nearest and dearest to him would be better off if he were dead. Doesn’t make sense, does it?
Where do we go with these tragedies? What do we do with them? Well what I heard today was an effort by many to bring hope and awareness to the issue of male depression in light of a horrific tragedy, like Paul Allen on KFAN. Junior Seau does not have to die in vain. Out of Junior Seau’s death we can all agree that enough is enough when it comes to this b.s. that men don’t get depression. The notion that men don’t get lonely, that men at times are afraid, that men at times are as lost with what to do next with their lives, and that men suffer sadness, loneliness, and yes they even cry. I just looked at my calendar and it is 2012, not 1958.
Junior Seau was hurting and I am quite certain that somewhere in his brain he just felt like he couldn’t ask for help. He probably perceived that he would be ridiculed, mocked, and been turned away by his friends. Probably not, but that is what depression can do to you. I heard grown men (football players mind you) crying on the radio today begging for a chance to go back and tell Junior that they were there for him, that they wanted to help him, and that they would do anything to have him alive. The lesson we have to learn is that when you are struggling and whether that is from depression, loneliness, or the fact that life just feels kind of shitty, there are people who care. But the bigger lesson is that those of us who are not struggling have got to be tuned into the needs of our friends and loved ones. You never know what your kind words, your effort to get your buddy out on the golf course, or just your friendship letting him know that it is okay that he is struggling might do for him. If I have heard once, I have heard it thousands of times…guys with depression feel alone. We can do something about that and by reaching out you just might prevent another tragic death, like that of Junior Seau.