Nigel Lythgoe Calls Suicide “Stupid”, Responds to Angry Fans

kathrynandricky

Last night, when So You Think You Can Dance judge, Nigel Lythgoe, referred to the “stupidity of suicide” while critiquing an emotional dance routine that addressed the subject, I knew he was in for it.

Emotions have been running especially high since the shocking suicide of beloved comedian Robin Williams earlier this month.  And indeed, the reaction he received on twitter was so strong, that Nigel took to the social media site today to respond.

After a moving Stacey Tookey choreographed routine that had all-star Kathryn McCormick playing an angel who saves  an emotionally bereft man, played by contestant, Ricky Ubeda, Nigel had some thoughts to share about suicide.

“Anybody who has lost a friend or a loved one because of the stupidity of suicide…there’s always somebody there,” Nigel insisted. “Suicide is not God’s plan for our lives. There’s always somebody there. You’ve just got to find them…” Nigel then confesses that he had recently lost two dear friends “through suicide, and through stupidity.”

Most mental health professionals would agree that suicide is too often a tragic and unforeseen byproduct of mental illness.  There’s no “stupidity” involved when a debilitating illness drives a person to take his or her own life.  Depression is an illness that can be intractable and difficult to treat, and has a stigma surrounding it that keeps people from seeking proper treatment.

Nigel’ three-tweet response isn’t an apology. I have to give him credit for not backpedalling in face of criticism.

I will not even begin to defend my feelings toward suicide. The belief that life is not worth living is wrong. The belief that there is no-one out there to help you is wrong. The defense of suicide victims is wrong. The devastation that is left behind with family and friends is wrong! I repeat taking away your pain by committing suicide is both stupid and selfish!

To keep on making excuses for people who commit suicide rather than helping them realize they are not alone. Helping them understand how precious their life is to you as well as to them is wrong. It’s easy to wash your hands and say they were mentally ill, nothing I could do. Your [sic] wrong!!!

My last word on this, of course not all suicides can be stopped. Because a mentally ill person is incapable of judgement does not make the act of suicide any less stupid or selfish. If one person can be saved, if one life can be turned around by letting them know someone is there for them, and I know a few that have been, then that’s all we can do!

Here are some of the negative responses:

Watch Ricky and Kathryn’s beautiful routine below:

  • Kimmy Moores

    Well..he had the balls to not retract the statement. That makes me respect him a bit more in a sense.
    But holy hell insensitive doesn’t even begin to describe this fiasco he’s gotten himself into.
    As for him referring to suicide as stupid, not my place to judge him for that. I’ve known friends who’ve lost loved ones to suicide and their reactions to it all either consisted of immense sadness, anger toward their loved one, or both.
    He ought to apologize for what he said and implied. No ones asking for him to apologize for his way of thinking.

  • Incipit

    Hey, look. Nigel is still a Moron. smh.

  • Damien Roberts

    I wasn’t initially upset with his use of the word stupid as I kind of figured that he probably meant to go with something a little more tactful…like senseless or pointless. The last thing a person who already feels not good enough for the world needs is to be told their stupid. Some sensitivity training might do Nigel some good…and this is hardly a controversy that a show that is on the bubble of being renewed or cancelled needs.

  • http://mjsbigblog.staging.wpengine.com/ mjsbigblog

    I can understand anger as a knee jerk reaction to suicide. But Nigel shows an overall ignorance about mental illness. People who commit suicide are not stupid or selfish, they are in the grips of a terrible illness that completely renders them to think past the pain that they are in.

  • chillj

    People in the public eye can not always voice nuanced opinions about subjects like suicide, because almost anything they say may influence someone unknown in the audience. If Nigel had said “suicide is appropriate under certain circumstances” even more people would have been all over him. If I were in a position to influence people I would be certain to say positive things that would give those in trouble something to hold on to or be dismissive, as Nigel was. I think he had thought about his opinion and it actually encourages me to think better of him than I have: He was careful and he needed to be.

  • justbreathe

    This person (in the twitter quote up in MJ’s post that I reposted below) articulated it both succinctly and well for why using the word “stupidity” was an inaccurate word to use:

    “not be confused with rational choice”

    Bree Spell @BreeATCFollow
    @dizzyfeet Suicide is neither stupid nor selfish.It’s a sign of mental illness, not be confused with rational choice.

  • chillj

    I disagree. Suicide can be extremely selfish. Suicidal people are unconcerned with other people because they are in their own private hell, but sometimes they do permanent damage to other people. Sometimes doing no harm simply entails staying alive, like it or no.

  • Damien Roberts

    I guess we agree to disagree.

  • realdeal

    Oh good. Tell a person who feels hopeless and is lacking a sense of self-worth that they are stupid and selfish. That’ll help.

    If he really understands that depression is an illness then would be say someone who dies from cancer is stupid and selfish?

    Nigel’s attitude is exactly why there is a stigma and people don’t get help. People think chronic depression and decisions made while in a downturn are related to selfishness, lack of intelligence, lack of personal strength and character or just a bad attitude.

  • chillj

    If the guy tells him it is a noble deed, he might do it. Then how would he feel? His choices are pretty limited.

  • Samantha

    He has the right to his opinion, but I have to say that I found his words to be extremely harsh and shortsighted. He seems to only be viewing suicide from the perspective of the people left behind. He has the audacity to say that a person who chooses suicide as a means of ending their own pain is stupid and selfish. Is it not stupid and selfish to expect someone who is in so much pain to continue hanging on day after day just to make other people happy?

    People tend to have so much compassion when a person is dying of a physical illness. If someone is slowly and painfully dying of cancer, then most people can understand why the person may want to go ahead and die instead of dragging it out and having no quality of life at the end. They may not agree with it, but they understand it and don’t call the person stupid for wanting to die. Well, depression and other forms of mental illness can be just as debilitating as any physical ailment. You feel like you’re dying, but it’s all on the inside. You want your pain to end, just like the dying cancer patient. But because the pain is not physical, people think you should just shake it off and get over it, or just “get help.” As if it’s that simple. Sorry, but meds and therapy do not always work.

    Sometimes the pain just becomes too much, and the harshness of this world does nothing but exacerbate the problem. Getting to the point where you want to take your own life is a hell that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I’ve been there many times, and I honestly can’t give you a reason as to why I’m still here. But I do know that the last thing I wanted to hear when I was in that pit of despair was how stupid and selfish I am for wanting my pain to end by any means necessary.

  • Mateja Praznik

    Suicide is not always a result of a mental illness. Sometimes it is the result of sheer stupidity or stubbornness.

  • realdeal

    It’s all well and good for you to ask the person who is suffering to “simply stay alive”. Because it must seem simple if you aren’t the one suffering. I am sure Robin Williams and others simply stayed alive for many years enduring the affects of mental illness.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    His choices included judging the dance and not making a public statement on the larger issue.

    Maybe he should have taken that option.

  • Samantha

    How is it not selfish for you to expect another person to stay alive and continue to endure their “own private hell” just because of how their death would affect you? You’re basically telling the person to stay alive and continue to suffer because of how their being dead will affect you. What you call doing no harm is actually doing a great deal of harm to the person who wants to leave. What you really want is for them to do no harm to you. Isn’t that the epitome of being selfish?

  • chillj

    It is, of course, selfish. But young children, who often feel abandoned for a lifetime when a parent commits suicide, can not discern the intellectual and emotional fine tuning.

  • HermeticallySealed

    Utterly disagree. Firstly, you seem to be making the assumption that those in the grip of suicidal thoughts are able to be rational. That simply is NOT the case. The brain functions through complex chemical balances. Throwing any of it off can have serious consequences that the individual has absolutely no control over. It is factually ignorant to claim otherwise.

    Secondly, there are suicides that have to do with quality of life. How is it not selfish for others to demand someone suffering a lingering, painful and miserable death prolong their life just so that others can feel better about themselves? Believe it or not, not all illnesses are curable, not all pain is mitigated by medicine/therapy. What kind of arrogant and self centered person would actually WANT someone to go through that kind of misery for the remainder of their life? That’s not love, it’s not compassion; it’s sadism.

    It seems disingenuous to me to act like suicide is a simple matter of black and white. Nothing in life is.

  • realdeal

    Yes, because if you don’t call it stupid and selfish then the only choice is to say it’s noble, lol.

    How about talking about it and trying to help people withtout damning their intelligence and character.

  • HermeticallySealed

    This is not an either or situation. Pointing out that suicide is not an issue of ‘stupidity’ is NOT saying it is noble. It is merely acknowledging the complexity of the issue.

  • Kariann Hart

    Samantha, your post is both thought provoking and educated. I believe most people (not all) who have never had deep depression cannot understand that intense feeling of despair. Maybe stupid was not a good word, but I do understand where Nigel is coming from. He lost two friends to suicide. Sadness and anger are normal reactions. I will not be harsh with him.
    Indeed medication and therapy do not always work. I believe in many cases it is a long term solution that just doesn’t kick in immediately. I feel frustration towards those who would say, “Snap out of it.” Don’t people understand that it does not work that way?
    I experienced deep depression several times in my life. When my Mother (my best friend) died, I could barely get out of bed. Going for grief counseling did help a bit. I’ll be honest with you…it was the birth of my first Grandchild that lifted the sadness. It was a long two years for me. No person has the right to judge another’s motive unless they have walked in their shoes!

  • chillj

    Suicide often is quite rational. Because some people have a chemical imbalance does not mean it is the reason for suicide for all people , nor are all people necessarily unable to be rational. You are working off assumptions that apply to some, but not necessarily all.

    Suicides because of quality of life are often the most rational. I did not say all suicide is selfish; I said suicide CAN be very selfish. If someone commits suicide knowing it will cause unremitting anguish in another who can not know nor understand the reasons for it, it is supremely selfish. People commit suicide because of illness and a ream of other reasons. Not all are not legitimate, but I don’t want to hear someone who is an example to young people say that.

  • Kesia Monteith

    That’s what I was thinking. He really should have stuck to talking about the dance and didn’t have to put in his personal feelings about a serious subject matter.

  • realdeal

    He didn’t make any qualifications. He made a blanket statement.

  • HermeticallySealed

    Nigel seems to suffer frequently from verbal diarrhea, continuing to go on and on about things with no seeming self-awareness.

  • tommy

    First off, Nigel needn’t apologize for anything. It’s his opinion and he has every right to express it. If people disagree, let them disagree – but to demand some apology is ridiculous. And suicide is hardly smart, so to call it stupid may be crass but I don’t find it inaccurate. I understand it’s perhaps more complicated but it should not held up as an answer to anything or any of life’s problems.

    I just lost a very dear friend to cancer, a young man in his 40’s who bravely and courageously fought every single day for months for his life because he knew how precious it was. He knew his illness would take his lift as it was an aggressive cancer, but he never gave up or collapsed under the enormous weight of chemo, radiation, and days of indignity and pain. So when I see someone end their own life I cannot muster up a lot of sympathy….it’s cowardly and a slap in the face to those who wake up everyday and cherish every moment while dealing with all sorts of crap that life throws at you.

  • chillj

    You don’t know Robin Williams’s demons, nor do I. His life could have been excruciating or it could be one I consider most blessed. He could be braveheart or the biggest coward that ever lived. I don’t know the man. His personal life can not be judged by a stage persona.

    No one is condemning Robin Williams, because it is not our place to judge him or what he chooses to do with his life – including ending it. He knows his circumstance and his family better than I do, but I am not making assumptions about his life based on nothing in evidence. His children seem ok with what he did; they seem at peace with it. That is important and he may have known their reaction and/or discussed it with them.

  • realdeal

    He wasn’t careful. He essentially blamed the victims of the illness when he called them stupid and selfish.

  • Lynn Gintonio

    Finding the right help can feel like an impossible task, especially when means are limited. My experience has shown that if you get to that point, and try to tell someone, they treat you like a criminal for being sick. Ever heard of the ‘Baker Act’. The system is broken! Sometimes people are just crying for help, but made to feel more guilty for acting out. So finality might seem like the only escape, at the time, from the pain.

  • chillj

    The range of what the guy can say on a television show addressed to a mass public are limited and narrow. Somewhere between “stupid” and “noble,” but not wanting to give some tortured soul an excuse to leave the earth, a decision he could regret in a day makes speaking tricky. What would YOU say on national television?

  • Kesia Monteith

    Well, sadly, some who do commit suicide comes out of loneliness and shame and feeling unwanted. When they have poor relations with family and friends and can barely get along with others. Some who have made mistakes where they feel their very own love ones won’t forgive them. In Robin Williams’ case, it has been rumoured he was going through financial issues, health issues and having trouble battling addiction. When going through such burden, maybe some who commit suicide sadly don’t want anyone to continue to see them at their worst.

  • HermeticallySealed

    The assumption being that people suffering chemical imbalances somehow are able to think rationally?

    As for the second half, after having watched someone spend over a year in debilitating pain from an incurable illness that nothing could abet. A pain so miserable that they resorted to drinking themselves senseless just to make it through another day, i simply disagree with your assessment. Not all situations are equal, nor can be held to the same standards.

  • realdeal

    Once again, this is the attitude that is part of the problem for people seeking understanding. Blaming the victims of the illness. Lambasting their character as cowardly.

    It’s like people who don’t suffer from depression suffer their own form of mental breakdown. They don’t understand it because they haven’t experienced it and they can’t grasp that mental illness affects a person’s ability to make decisions or even to be physically active.

    It is a PHYSICAL disease that directly attacks your THINKING.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    What would YOU say on national television?

    “Suicide is tremendously sad for everybody involved… [insert comments on the merit of the dance].”

    Here in Arizona, a prominent member of the business community killed himself at the start of the Great Recession, when his business failed spectacularly in a trail of bankruptcies and law suits. I said “that’s tremendously sad” over and over, without commentary on his motivations or prior behavior, because it wasn’t rocket science that the issue was going to be sensitive.

  • chillj

    That works.

  • HermeticallySealed

    It’s tragic, maybe. It’s a sad, sad thing? Or how about not trying to fit a discussion on such a situation into a minute of Judging on a dance show? I can guarantee you, no one in such a state is going to hear “it’s stupid thing to do” and magically go “Oh! That changes everything.” This is not some hacked sitcom reality where a pep talk solves all problems in 5 minutes or less.

  • chillj

    Why do you insist everyone who commits or thinks about suicide is suffering a chemical imbalance? Speak for yourself.

    Not everyone is. Not every suicide necessarily is. There are very real life situations some people can not cope with and choose to leave. As you say, not all situations are equal nor can they be held to the same standards.

  • tommy

    Depression is not always a chemical imbalance, it’s often an emotional state that have many professionals just wanting to drug the crap out of people – that makes it worse and contributes to chemical imbalance. Of course not all situations are equal, but cowardly taking your own life while leaving friends and family behind is exactly that, cowardly. And it should not be lauded or excused or explained away.

    And yes, courageous people fight for every moment of life – not throw it away.

  • Amy Beth

    I interpret Nigel’s remarks as survivor’s frustration and guilt.

  • chillj

    Could be.

  • tommy

    I am not blaming anyone, if someone wants to commit suicide that is their choice. I find it cowardly and inexcusable. There is help out there, choosing not to deal with it and ending your life instead is a choice.

  • Kariann Hart

    There are a series of self-help books that fit into your purse or small brief case. They are called ELF-HELP BOOKS. The one that was most helpful to me was “Grief Therapy.” There are others like, “Making-sense-out-of-suffering”, “Stress”, and “Loneliness.” When I first saw them, I thought it was senseless and I would never get to that point of the end of the book – but I did feel better.

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/?series_id=106409

  • chillj

    A large portion of the world feels as Nigel does and (dare I say) major religion almost always disapproves of it. Nigel’s statement may even be the prevailing one – minus the word stupid.

  • HermeticallySealed

    But, it doesn’t make it right.

  • Kariann Hart

    Please try telling that to a 15 year-old girl whose boyfriend broke up with her and she can’t live without him. She sees no bright future ahead. The sad part is that teens don’t always share their feelings, especially to his/her parent(s).

  • realdeal

    He could say, “It’s a shame mental health issues are viewed with such disregard that most standard health insurance won’t cover it and we lose too many loved ones to this dreaded and misunderstood disease. I dream for the day sufferers aren’t viewed with disdain and help is readily available.”

    Spoken in 10 seconds. Doable.

  • HermeticallySealed

    Again, that overlooks the facts that people suffering from chemical imbalances (mental illness) are not always capable of controlling their actions. They quite literally are not thinking rationally, nor able to do so. You cannot expect someone in that situation to discern things the same as when their chemistry is normal. Their brain is literally processing things wrong.

    Might as well load someone up on intoxicants then get mad at them when they don’t make rational choices.

  • chillj

    My mother attempted suicide three times, damn near did it, the third time after taking forty seconal. Gave herself heart disease and awakened “surprised” she did so much damage to her body. She was acting out: But she was in a coma for days.

    No one ever blamed the victim, but commiserating with her did her no good, either, and she dedicated her life to being a professional patient, which did not make her family’s life a picnic. I almost broke down caring for her when she refused to care for herself. Every once in a while even a mentally ill person needs someone to tell them to “cut the crap.”

    I understand depression all too well. But not everyone’s depression is some external force attacking them from beyond and thinking it is sometimes is too good an excuse for not doing anything about it. Sometimes you can’t do anything, but sometimes you can and choose not to.

    Blanket statements are not helpful.

  • chillj

    I have seen psychotic people straighten right out for a few minutes when being given a competency test. Never underestimate the mentally ill.

  • HermeticallySealed

    “Blanket statements are not helpful.”

    Very true. Blanket statements are not helpful.

  • chillj

    What is odd about your premise is that it does not allow for a rational suicide. All suicides must be “out of control.” Helpless. That victimizes suicides almost as much as saying they are stupid does: you have taken away agency, that which makes them most human.

  • http://mjsbigblog.staging.wpengine.com/ mjsbigblog

    “Blanket statements are not helpful.”

    Very true. Blanket statements are not helpful.

    Nigel made them, and he should have kept his mouth shut.

  • Samantha

    Yes, telling a mentally ill person to “cut the crap” is often helpful. It should be included in the curriculum of all psychiatry programs.

  • realdeal

    I take at face value what his friends and family have said, including that he was suffering severe depression so don’t imply I pulled that out of thin air.

    “Suicidal people are unconcerned with other people”

    You simply don’t know this.

  • hayes

    Yes, he is entitled to his opinion. But he isn’t entitled to judge anyone’s state of mind.

  • HermeticallySealed

    So all are able to do the same? Are there some who can, sure. That doesn’t mean all can. Just because giving someone a stern talking down might prop them right out of their state of mind, does not mean it applies to everyone. Assuming all people with mental illnesses somehow have the same reactions, or are merely doing it for attention defies facts.

  • HermeticallySealed

    I don’t say that. Not anywhere do I say all suicides result from mental illness or chemical imbalance. I specifically state mental illness being a result of chemical imbalance, and expecting rational judgement is ludicrous. i also agree that someone in a hopeless situation where they feel the quality of life does not warrant continuing on might make the choice of suicide.

  • chillj

    A stern talking to will not do much; in fact, speaking low and soft does far more when addressing the psychotic. I worked with the mentally ill for years: some are quite brilliant and canny and more than once my jaw dropped when someone who had so completely decompensated s/he could not control his bowels or dress himself suddenly became stunningly lucid for ten minutes. It is something to see. I have no idea how common an occurrence ti is: I just know it happens.

  • HermeticallySealed

    Ummm, no not really. I think someone whose quality of life is so poor that continuing on might be viewed as futile could very well consider suicide a rational situation.

  • HermeticallySealed

    Nowhere do i ever say all suicides are the result of chemical imbalance. No where do i say people can’t be rational and make the choice to do so.

    “If someone commits suicide knowing it will cause unremitting anguish in
    another who can not know nor understand the reasons for it, it is
    supremely selfish.”

    The insinuation being that the one isn’t being supremely selfish for demanding another exist in pure hell just so that they don’t have to experience sadness? I guess we just need a neatly wrapped up formula to determine when one’s suffering gets to negate another’s.

  • Karrington

    I think it is so easy to think you know why someone would commit suicide but sometimes you never get the answer. My brother-in-law suffered from what seemed like mild bouts of depression periodically. He was tall, good looking. He and my sister both college educated with good jobs and a beautiful home. He played electric guitar with a band on the side. Then my sister needed minor surgery. The doctors said she would have a full recovery and nothing much to worry about. So we were not worried. But for some reason he convinced himself that she was going to die. His reaction was not logical and after weeks of trying to make him understand that she would be fine, they sought help. He was on medication for a week the day of her surgery. The doctors said it would take about two weeks for him to feel better. As we waited to take her to the hospital, with a room full of people, he sat in the chair and shot himself in the head. Their only child was on the road driving from NY to meet them at the hospital for her surgery. We had to call him and tell him to pull off the road. Everyone was hysterical. To this day we don’t know why. But I would never call him stupid.

  • chillj

    Look, I think we all get in trouble when the word every or all or even most are used in reference to almost anything. I don’t disagree with much of what you say, I just don’t think it is universally applicable, in every circumstance. The varieties of human experience are just too unique for that. The thread seemed to equate suicide with depression and to equate all depression with mental imbalance. I don’t know that the science is there yet and I don’t know that it will ever be there: some life experiences cause depression and some brain imbalances cause it and some psychological pain of other sorts causes it. For all we know, some could be caused by pesticides and it frankly wouldn’t surprise me.

    I think to attribute too much to the current popular psych themes does everyone, even patients, a disservice and it attributes to the scientific community a knowledge it doesn’t possess. I have seen the treatments and the theory fail too often for glib solutions, so I am agnostic on the subject.

    I read your comments as blanket statements and you read mine as the same. I did not intend mine to be blanket statements and apparently you did not intend yours to be blanket statements, either.

  • cableknitgal

    As someone who struggles with depression daily I can tell you that I often feel selfish, which makes me feel worse about myself, which makes me not want to burden someone else with my problems, nor do I want to add other people’s problems to my own already overloaded plate. See selfish, Suicide and depression are innately selfish. Your ability for compassion actually diminishes the more that depression takes a hold of you. That’s where the worthless feelings come from. You are of no help to anyone, you burden them with your problems, you don’t have any energy reserves to “snap out of it” for even a moment to help THEM when they need YOU. It is a vicious cycle where you wind up feeling worthless and people being better off without you.

  • chillj

    Yes, it is a vicious. And Ironically, the ultimate selfishness, loving yourself, enables you to love more openly and feel… less selfish. We need a healthy self, and too much depression seems to stem from lack of one.

  • chillj

    Some of us can bend in a gale, others of us break in a breeze. That is a horrible experience for your family and just so impossible to figure out: we are just fragile and we can’t know what sets off another being – a memory, a profound fear….who knows? Very sad.

  • Ronnie D

    I’m sorry, but this guy is a jerk. Never liked him.

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    You had an incredibly horrible experience with your mother and yes, other people like her also exist.

    So do mentally ill or severely depressed people who can’t snap out of it and don’t possess manipulation skills because they can’t even fully manage themselves when they’re in the grip of it.

    That’s why Lythgoe should have avoided his verbal screed. There are too many different kinds of pain and horror surrounding the issue.

    I’m sorry this happened to you. You’ve borne a lot.

  • Heidijoy

    Nigel is dealing with his own anger because two people he cared about committed suicide. Anger is a normal initial reaction. The problem with him publicly calling it stupid does nothing to help the problem. It would be wise for him to seek help. If he must speak publicly, he would be better off to describe his own hurt and encourage those suffering to seek help. The show could list resources and a Hot Line number
    It made me wonder who he was talking about and speculating about recent sudden deaths.

  • lkingcorn

    Nigel, Nigel, Nigel, learn how to filter yourself. You are a public figure and if you say something stupid it will slap you in the face. Those tortured souls who find ending their lives are not thinking go of hurting others, only of relieving the pain they suffer.

  • HappyDaisy_2

    Nigel’s comments are ignorant. He obviously lacks an understanding of the complexity of this extremely serious issue. Chillj below said “Blanket statements are not helpful.” So true.

    I agree with some advocates for suicide prevention (and impacted loved ones) that “died by suicide” is more accurate and compassionate than “committed suicide” or “took his own life.”

    Below are some useful reflections on suicide (reportedly from Norman Vincent Peale, I haven’t verified). There but for the grace of God go I. Compassion, not condemnation.

    “I think our reaction should be one of love and pity, not of condemnation. Perhaps the person was not thinking clearly in his final moments; perhaps he was so driven by emotional whirlwinds that he was incapable of thinking at all. This is terribly sad… but surely it is understandable. All of us have moments when we lost control of ourselves, flashes of temper, or irritation, of selfishness that we later regret. Each one of us, probably, has a final breaking point- or would have if our faith did not sustain us. Life puts more pressure on some of us than it does on others. When I see in the paper, as I do all too often, that dark despair has rolled over some lonely soul, so much so that for him life seemed unendurable, my reaction is not one of condemnation. It is, rather “There but for the grace of God…”

  • lkingcorn

    You have every right to disagree, but I must wonder if you have ever lost a loved one in this way.

  • lkingcorn

    Well that was all very enlightening. I could be very wrong but I don’t feel this horrific situation has actually impeded on your lives. Apologize if I’m wrong.

  • HappyDaisy_2

    “In Robin Williams’ case, it has been rumoured he was going through financial issues, health issues and having trouble battling addiction.”

    Rumors are useless. I also read quotes from doctors who indicated that Robin’s Parkinson’s Disease and medications to treat it have both been documented as causal factors for depression. So, it could have been solely chemical or a combo of chemical and other factors that precipated this poor man’s death by suicide. His widow said his sobriety was intact.

  • HappyDaisy_2

    Quotes from doctors indicated that Robin Williams’ Parkinson’s Disease and medications to treat it have both been documented as causal factors for depression. If so, in this particular case, chemical imbalance seems a possibility. His widow said his sobriety was intact.

  • Jordana34

    Nigel’s comment just showed a profound amount of ignorance on the topic and I’m not surprised about the backlash. Mental health is a disease, just like any other illness. It’s even harder to treat because we have so little understanding of how the brain works. When Nigel calls suicide “stupid” or unnecessary, it just sounds like he’s trivializing an underlying condition that he doesn’t understand at all. He’s not qualified to speak on the topic and should have kept his mouth shut.

  • chillj

    I do not realize how very raw my feelings are on some subjects until a topic comes up in forums like this, mostly this one. From my childhood experience I learned on thing and that was that I could never commit suicide . For a child there is no rejection quite as devastating, because no rejection is as final: I remember thinking my mother didn’t love me enough to stay alive. It is very difficult to love yourself when you feel so unloved; . thus suicide becomes multi-generational. Anyone in mental crisis needs support and counseling. I would suggest their families also do and often, because the sick person is the focus of care, they do not get it – indeed, are often blamed for it, even as families insist children are “not responsible.”

    The society needs a different approach to many things, including this. It is complex.

  • nncw

    Nigel ruined the intent of the dance performance and his statements about suicide did nothing to advance a greater understanding of how to face the problem or help those who are suffering. His pompous declarations and lack of apologies to me demonstrates just a stubbornness and a lack of empathy in his communication skills which hopefully do not reflect what is in his heart..

  • jga94

    If you read the context of what Nigel said…the “stupid’ part is more a product of his emotional reaction to losing people/friends to suicide….you know, like when you are so frustrated about something you feel helpless about that you curse and say things you wouldn’t normally say?

    I think he explained his side well.

  • gem2477

    Nigel doesn’t understand the mentality of people who are seriously depressed. I have been there. I have myself literally thought no one loves me, my life will never get better…Lots of people do not understand the depths that negative thoughts can go to.

  • gem2477

    No. People who commit suicide believe that no one cares anyway, or that the people around them would be better off if they died. If no one cares about you, why be concerned what happens if you die?

  • rereader

    As I understand it, suicide happens when a person is in so much pain that that pain swallows everything else.

    Their pain might be such that suicide is a not-irrational choice–for example, in the case an incurable, debilitating, painful disease. Their pain might be transitory and the suicide the result of a lack of experience or proportion, as when some teens kill themselves over problems that they themselves would see as manageable ten years down the line–but they simply do not have that experience or sense of proportion at the time (I walked that line as a teen, myself; most fortunately I didn’t slide over it, but I could sure see it). Or their pain might be emotional, neurological, and/or biochemical, and the sufferer may have little control over their own decision-making faculties.

    It seems to me that In none of those cases does is it appropriate to blame the victim, since they are making the best choices they are able to make at that time and in that situation. Suicide is usually tragic (or the situation is tragic), and the decision may seem “stupid” from the outside–but the PEOPLE are not stupid, they are victims.

  • msbeale

    I have lost someone to suicide, and have also been close to it myself. Those of you who have never struggled to survive major depression are passing a lot of judgement despite having no idea what depression does to you when you’re in the throws of it. I am fortunate that medication saved my life; it does not work for many others. David Foster Wallace had every therapeutic and medical intervention on the planet and none of them stuck.

  • Lastwaltz

    Also debilitating is the sense of numbness — to love, to the idea of death, to everything. The feeling of separation from your loved ones — though you know you’re loved and would be missed, your illness has already separated you from them in many ways. I have tremendous empathy and sympathy for anyone suffering like this.

  • Jordana34

    I understand why he said it, but it’s still a comment bred from ignorance, It highlights an ongoing stigma that people with certain mental illnesses (such as depression) constantly have to endure, which is that they don’t have a “real” diseases. I’m almost certain that if NIgel’s friends had died from anything else, such as heart disease, cancer, or infection, he probably wouldn’t have called it a “stupid” death, because he would have understood the inevitability of those conditions, Suicide to him is “stupid”, because he subconsciously or consciously sees it as something irrational that could have easily been prevented with the right attention. Similarly, people might call a vehicular fatality “stupid”, if the cause was due to negligent behavior (like not wearing a seatbelt, helmet, etc.)

    I certainly wouldn’t condemn any friend or colleague for saying what Nigel said, and I get your point about Nigel being frustrated and feeling helpless. But ultimately, I still think his comments resulted from a lack of understanding of the topic. The difference, however, is that Nigel’s comments are heard by millions of people (including those with first-hand experience with depression and are sensitive about the topic). This is why celebrities really need to think twice before they start sharing their opinions on topics like this.

  • gem2477

    right. you just don’t care.

  • onlooker

    People commit suicide for all kinds of reasons and mental illness is only one of those reasons. For example, it seems quite prevalent in my part of the world for men to kill their spouses when relationships turn sour then kill themselves. In cases like these I will say stupidity! Stupidity! Stupidity! I believe these men kill themselves, not because they suffer from any mental illness but because they do not want to take responsibility for their actions by facing conviction and prison.

    On another note, there is one gentleman who suffers from depression, and has recently accepted that he has a mental condition, who wrote about his constant battle with depression in one of the local newspapers in my area. He does not see suicide as stupidity. For him the decision to commit suicide is a well-thought out, “rational” decision by those who suffer from depression. (He has made more than ten attempts to commit suicide thus far). According to him, those who suffer from depression see the committing of suicide as a way to “free” relatives and friends from the burden that they come to see themselves as being.

    I hope none of my relatives who suffer from depression decides to kill themselves to “help” me.

  • Damien Roberts

    No, if anything calling it stupid shows a sign of lack of understanding. We are adults here, he surely could have come up with something a little more intellectual than, “suicide is stupid”. I mean really? Thats the nugget he’s going to use his platform to convey? Why not take a positive measure and post the national suicide hotline number on the show and leave it with a positive message like, “you may think at this moment life is not worth living, but please if you or anyone you know is battling depression call this number”?

    You are right, its his opinion and he has every right to express it…but I think not thinking about the opinion you’re putting out and using the word “stupid” at the same moment is more than a little ironic.