Suicide and addiction are both serious mental health issues. If you’ve reached a certain age your life has probably been affected by one or the other, maybe even both. And the truth is there’s never going to a perfect time to ask for advice or help. You just gotta ask.
We’re at what is arguably the most polarizing point in recent memory. Certainly in my memory and I grew up during the cold war. The news cycle is a 25-hour, 8 day a week overwhelming cavalcade of anger and awfulness. And then you add the pressure of whatever your interaction is with social media and general life stuff, regardless of age it can get kind of nutty. It’s no wonder people look for an escape.
The cherry on top right now is that we’re just a couple of weeks away from April 5 which will mark 25 years since Kurt Cobain committed suicide. I was never the biggest Nirvana fan (I leaned – still do – a little more towards Pearl Jam), but it is a defining moment in my life. I sure know where I was when the news broke (driving on my way to the restaurant I worked at). As it’s a cultural benchmark, I’m certain there will be a deluge of memorials to Cobain.
While I may not have been the biggest fan, I still felt the sense of loss. He was a tremendous artist. While I didn’t always like what he produced, I listened to it because it was always interesting. To be, and remain, interesting at that time in music said something.
Cobain was also a father and his actions forced a baby to grow up without the guiding presence of a father. Not unique, tragic nonetheless.
Kurt Cobain was also a drug addict with a boatload of psychological baggage, coupled with the trappings and troubles of international fame. His life leading up to April 5, 1994 was like a bouillabaisse of disaster.
Were his problems insurmountable? That’s impossible for me to say, they weren’t my problems. I didn’t feel them and I have no point of reference. Outside looking in? I definitely think he could’ve overcame them. But he chose not to.
It’s hard to think, 25 years on, what the world would look or sound like had Cobain picked up a phone and called someone. But he didn’t. We don’t like to think of fame as isolating, but if Kurt Cobain left us one thing besides his music, it’s that.
Do I wish Kurt Cobain had not taken his life? Yea. I also wish four people from my personal life had not done it. And countless artists whose work I’ve enjoyed and thousands of others who I’ve never known. I wish they hadn’t taken their lives too.
Crisis lines were available in 1994 and they’re still available. The internet has opened even more opportunities for relief and help if you find yourself overwhelmed by the pressures of your life.
I recently saw Monica Lewinsky interviewed where she admitted she wished social media was around in the 90’s when she was being skewered for the rather normal behavior (re: the poor decisions of a 22-year-old). Her feeling was that if only someone could’ve reached out to let her back then via Twitter (or whatever) to let her know that she wasn’t so isolated and alone. I can’t argue with that.
But if you’re struggling, social media is only a short term salve. There are virtual doctors, telehealth or telemedicine networks that can provide more educated and proper guidance. Seek those out.
As April 5 inches up on us, more things will be said about Kurt Cobain. I’m hoping most of them will be celebrating his music and what he contributed.
But just imagine for a moment if he had picked up the phone and sought some advice or asked for help.
Would the world be any different?
Who can say?
Would music be any different?
Without a doubt.
If you need advice, seek it. If you’re in pain, get help for it. There’s never going to be a wrong time to ask . . . but you do have to ask for it. Please do.
Don’t make the same mistake Kurt Cobain did 25 years ago.
Resources are available:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)