Beliefnet
Beyond Blue

“One only needs to have a family member or friend with a mental illness to understand that there is nothing rational, predictable, or fair about these diseases…. He was not down or blue, he was ill.”

That statement was just released by the family of comedian Richard Jeni regarding the actor’s suicide last Saturday.

Today the family of Brad Delp, the lead singer for the band “Boston,” confirmed that his death was also a suicide.

“He was a man who gave all he had to give to everyone around him, whether family, friends, fans or strangers,” the family said. “He gave as long as he could, as best as he could, and he was very tired. We take comfort in knowing that he is now, at last, at peace.”

Whenever I hear such loving and poignant statements about someone who has taken his or her own life, I think about William Styron’s words: “The pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it. To the tragic legion who are compelled to destroy themselves there should be no more reproof attached than to the victims of terminal cancer.”

The eminent novelist of “Sophie’s Choice” and “Confessions of Nat Turner” penned his memoir, “Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness,” as a response to the public’s reaction to the suicide of Primo Levi, the Italian-Jewish writer and chemist who had survived the Holocaust. The scholars who admired Levi wondered how he could have endured years of torture by the Nazis yet break under depression.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve paged through Styron’s book to validate my own pain and anxiety, to know I’m not exaggerating or making it up as some friends and family members (and all insurance companies) would like to believe. Just as seasoned parents say “You wait!” to the pregnant lady in front of them at the checkout line, a person can’t begin to appreciate the harrowing darkness of depression unless she’s been there.

And so to the families of these sad tragedies, I extend my love and support. I pray that Richard and Brad have found their peace, and I pray that you might find strength and comfort in knowing that so many of us depressives join you in your sadness, in your grief, and in your fight for this cause.

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