2/22/21: We Must Openly Discuss The Tragic Loss Of Celebrities

Not sure there’s a person who knows some of the details of this story, who’s not impacted in major way.

Vincent Jackson was the type of guy who was hard NOT to root for. He looked & played like a giant on the field in his 12 seasons w the Chargers & Bucs…but was just as much a behemoth off it. He was a married father of 4; a community contributor & successful business leader. During his 5yrs w the Bucs, 4x he was the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee, which recognizes community service.

He grew up w a father in the military (Army), & set up ‘Jackson in Action 83 Foundation’ helping military families. He & his wife even wrote a series of children’s books abt growing up in military families. 

Such a great, giving life. So why rush to a post on his loss, when all the details haven’t been released? Bc our media & by proxy, our society, creates a narrative that totally misleads on the topic of MH, in their attempt to “make sense” of these losses of these public figures. In our attempt to be careful abt drawing conclusions, the current process actually confuses even more. Consider the following:

When we’ve recently lost public figures at young ages, like: Tarvaris Jackson – car accident, Chadwick Bozeman – colon cancer, Dustin Diamond – lung cancer, we felt a sense of “closure” bc, while tragic, the accident or their sickness cleanly explained the losses.

But this has not been the case for high profile figures like: Tyler Skaggs from the Angels, Ben Jordan from Kentucky basketball, Stanley Robinson from Uconn basketball, & now Vincent Jackson.

When the cause of death isn’t “simple,” here’s what happens: the powers that be become secretive & announce the body was found w “no foul play,” we don’t hear many details, we’re told to respect the fam, details abt the public figure’s life/struggles are leaked, & in trying to make sense of it all, thru conjecture, conclusions abt the “how” are shared even MORE. 

It’s human nature…ppl want/need answers for closure. In this particular case here’s what leaks: Vincent “struggled w alcoholism”…he “had been living in the hotel” away from his fam the past few days…& their is “belief” that CTE from head trauma on the field contributed to this result.  CTE – which can only be diagnosed AFTER death!

So, consider what the lay public now hears: premature death of a man who looked in great shape, in a hotel room, “no foul play,” alcoholism, brain trauma (it’s like we are trying to throw reasons at the wall & hope a few stick) to then “make sense” of a something mired in mystery.

I’m gonna offer an alternative. Former NFL receiver, Greg Camarillo, who I connected w recently, put out this tweet, after the loss of Jackson, his former teammate, was announced: “Football players struggle when our careers are over. It’s hard. We have been football players for years. It’s what we do, what we know, and a big part of who we are. And then it’s gone. A big part of our identity lost.”  

Greg didn’t write that & 6 other tweets that accompanied it, that went viral, to gain attention. He did it bc he wanted ppl to KNOW, that humans are humans, that we are ALL impacted by transition, even the titans among us. And so why is that tweet so profound?

It’s a tweet, that lives in a vacuum, not discussed in the media articles, when the “cleanliness” of “alcoholic” or “brain trauma victim” are shared. THIS IS WRONG! We have to get to a places (yes even w/o all the details), where when we lose a public figure, alone, w “no foul play,” & it’s not something like a heart attack or stroke, that we in aggregate discuss mental health/trauma as THE underlying culprit.  As Theo always says: trauma – life trauma & physical trauma, addiction, suicide, overdose – they are ALL family members who live in the SAME house. They are not different residents living in different neighborhoods who don’t know one another. 

When we lose a public figure like this, we HAVE to start talking about MH in the collective & openly share their life & what happened TO them, throughout life…the experiences as a child, the transitions, yes the physical trauma, & how they maybe turned to substances to cope w the “pain.”

What’s the alternative? We live in secrecy, try to assign a single “issue” as the “cause” & never gain an understanding as a society how we are a collection of our experiences, which can end in tragedy? We aren’t seeing the forest for the trees. 

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