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:
Hmm… Nigel Lythgoe calling suicide “stupidity” seems a bit…ignorant. #sytycd
— Gabe Alonso (@gabealonso) August 28, 2014
— Bree Spell (@BreeATC) August 28, 2014
And the joy and happiness of a beautiful night of dance come to a screeching halt. Thanks for your stupidity Nigel. #sytycd
— Karen Springer (@PipNAndy) August 28, 2014
— Tammy Vent (@tammyvent) August 28, 2014
“The stupidity of suicide.” Sigh Nigel. Must be nice to know what that feeling of hopelessness is like. #SYTYCD
— Denise Targaryen (@Dandelionns) August 28, 2014
Watch Ricky and Kathryn’s beautiful routine below: