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Lee Thompson Young Commits Suicide at 29: Experts Weigh In
With the amount of recent celebrity suicides, many are left wondering why. The most recent suicide, Lee Thompson Young, is especially troubling, as he was only 29 when he killed himself. We spoke to several experts about this recent event and wanted to share these thoughts with you.
Lee Thompson Young – a well-liked and well-respected rising star – committed suicide and left everyone wondering why.
Not just those who knew him, but fans and strangers alike, can’t fathom why someone who seemed to have such a bright future would do himself in.
Obviously, Lee hid his demons and secret pain well enough so that no one realized how hopeless he had become.
For one bleak moment, he felt that life was unbearable and could only see death as a solution. All across America, people like Lee, who see no way out, are choosing suicide instead of getting psychiatric help. We need to reach out to them and get them into treatment ASAP, so that they can see that there are many moments of happiness awaiting them in the future, if only they get help to get beyond this one bleak moment.
Carole Lieberman, M.D.
Beverly Hills Forensic Psychiatrist/ Expert Witness
All suicide is tragic. But when a celebrity like Lee Thompson Young commits suicide, the publicity surrounding his death sheds light on the issue that affects so many others who are not celebrities. And while the victim of suicide is gone, the road to recovery and healing for the survivors is different from that of those who have lost loved ones to more understandable and “natural” causes.
* Shame. Many times suicide carries an aura of shame for the surviving family who feels that their loved one was weak — an attribute that in America, has a negative connotation. The inference is that the family created this weak person — someone so weak he or she took their own life rather than deal with life’s difficulties. The family feels associated with this weakness, and often tries not to talk about the suicide because it brings up these difficult to reconcile feelings. This creates a very difficult grieving process where shame rules.
* Guilt. In addition, many survivors feel guilty because they think that they could have saved the suicide victim. They think about missed opportunities that might have saved his or her life — things they might have said or done that would have made a difference. They feel responsible in different ways than families of cancer victims do. This guilt makes it hard to grieve and heal from the death of a suicide victim who is a loved one.
As a relationship expert and author who answers relationship questions for free on the Relationship Forum of my site, www.AskApril.com, where anonymity is guaranteed, and folks who can’t afford paid therapy or feel it has not served them in the past, occasionally write me for advice about relationships where someone is either considering suicide or has attempted it or, more often, is threatening to commit suicide. My advice is to keep the channel of communication open, and balance that communication with honesty and hope, in addition to getting immediate support from free suicide hotlines. Professionals who deal with suicide have tools to help not just the potential victims of suicide, but the family, friends, neighbors and communities of these loved ones. Suicide creates a ripple effect and eventually, we all know someone who who has committed suicide or has considered it.
Nicknamed “the new millennium’s Dear Abby” by the media, April Masini writes the critically acclaimed ‘Ask April’ advice column and answers reader’s questions on the free Ask April advice forum. Author of four books, including Date Out Of Your League (TurnKey Press, 0-9746763-0-6) and Think & Date Like A Man (iUniverse, 0-595-37466-2), April has been interviewed for over 2,700 articles and opinion pieces, radio and television shows, including those on FOX, ABC, CBS, MSN, Telemundo and Univision — New York Times, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, Maxim and USA Today.
People often ask me about getting their kids in Hollywood. I tell them it’s much more important for them to have a childhood and not grow up/develop in this type of environment. If you can come to Los Angeles in your late 20′s and give it a go, do that first. Finish school, learn who you are as a person. Hollywood and the challenges to your ego can take its toll.
Sam Russell travels the US after 13 years in the Hollywood scene, celebrity and TV wardrobe stylist, finding unique stories of women in need and surprises them with a wardrobe upgrade valued at $10,000. A survivor of two attempted suicide attempts when he was a teenager, Sam knows the painful struggles of what Lee Thompson Young was going through. Frustrated with the greed and ego of entertainment, Sam re-routes PR clothing gifted to celebrities and uses it to help women in need. He finds unique stories of survivors through non-profits and social workers.
Suicides occur most often as a result of hopelessness: the belief that things will never get better the way they are on earth. Sometimes it is coupled with depression and or substance abuse. In the case of Lee Thompson Young, there was no known drug or alcohol abuse, and no overt signs of depression outside of his death.
Hopelessness is, in fact, the number one indicator of suicide. When people experience hopelessness, it is almost like they develop blinders that close off other options. As a result, the only solution they see is to kill themselves.
As a psychologist, physical therapist and author of the bestselling book “A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness,” my national platform includes interviews by various national media outlets including The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, WSJ, Forbes, Woman’s Day, Glamour, Self, Woman’s World, Health and Cosmopolitan.
Dr. Elizabeth R. Lombardo, Ph.D., M.S., P.T
Many times when a person commits suicide, those closest to the individual will search within trying to figure out how they missed a vital sign or clue alerting them to the depth of their loved ones pain.
In our society we are not taught to develop our intuition, making us ignore the internal signals that alert us when something is amiss.
I feel deeply saddened by Lee Thompson’s suicide because he is he same age of my daughter. His action will serve as a wakeup call for me to check in with her, especially during times when “my intuition tells me something is right.”
During the coming weeks, many of those who knew and loved Lee will wonder what went wrong.
His senseless death indicates that we are truly our brother’s keeper and each of us must check in with those we care about on a regular basis. This is especially true for those we perceive as “having it all,” who are often the most adept at hiding their pain.
Young Black males are especially vulnerable to feeling insecure in their white only world, but yet this is where success has blessed them.
As an Intuitive Coach and Counselor one of my tasks is to train people to recognize how intuition feels in their body. Our body is our laboratory and it tells us what we need to know. The challenge is to allow ourselves to be fully conscious to the internal information we have available. The information is always there if you choose to listen.
While we don’t know the specifics of the alleged suicide in the Lee Thompson case, it would be important to consider all of the below issues when trying to ascertain why such a young, talented individual would cut their life short.
Living in the limelight with any mental health condition is a difficult task. Constantly being scrutinized and feeling as if every move is being examined can lead to severe stress for the most well-functioning individuals and for those compromised, even periodically, by mental health difficulties the task can be enormous. Indeed, one of the most reliable
factors for the exacerbation of mental health symptoms is severe stress - imagine always being in the spotlight.
When it comes to suicide there are a number of issues that one usually has to consider. An obvious factor is mood but additional factors include motivation, means, and medication. We know that the onset of some antidepressant medication can bring about an increased risk of suicide, likely to due improving functioning just enough to motivate action without yet resolving the mood issues.
We also know that the cessation of some antidepressants can do the same although likely but worsening mood states. Again, having to go through such a troubling process with little privacy and space can bring about undue stress and increase risk.
It is finally important to consider the possible role of substances in the suicide picture. A good portion of suicides are undertaken with the victim under the influence of alcohol or other mind altering drugs. Such substances can dis-inhibit a person to act in way that they would not if not under the influence.
Dr. Adi Jaffe
Suicide is a tragic event whether the person is a celebrity or a bullied 12-year-old from the Midwest. It’s an action taken when the person believes there are no other options to ameliorate the emotional pain that pervades every corner of his/her life. Lee Thompson Young clearly experienced profound despair, and must have believed that taking his life was the only way out.
While I’m not a celebrity myself, I imagine that the lack of privacy, adoration, paparazzi, demands of filming TV series, concocted stories and so on weigh heavy anyone in the public eye…even if they’re not living with depression (although any one of these elements could contribute to it). Lee had been living that life since he was a kid, and growing up amidst the scrutiny of a not-so-forgiving media must have been difficult at best.
Lee Thompson Young’s death brings forward the question once again: what price does fame have?
Robyn M. King, M.S.Ed., L.M.H.C.
Schenectady County Community College
I am an intuitive and medium so I can talk to people who have passed all the time. I think if people knew what they would _choose_ for themselves next time around, maybe they wouldn’t commit suicide. I found out I was intuitive while working with a non-verbal disabled child in my horseback therapy program in 1990. Since my opening, I have endeavored to be able to tap into all types of Universal information. Physics tells us that everything is energy and everything has a vibration and frequency. I know that all I am doing is tuning into vibrations and frequencies that other people miss. I feel like a big cell phone tower.
When working with severely disabled children, I learned that all children who are quadriplegic from cerebral palsy committed suicide in their past life. That being said, there is plenty of grey area in suicide. When someone is dying and ends their life early, that does not result in choosing the same consequences. When someone suffers from a mental disorder and commits suicide, no negative consequences in the next life. And, if someone takes an overdose but in their last conscious moments says, “I don’t want to die,” that is an accident, not suicide. It seems to be based on the person’s INTENTION at the last moment of consciousness.
We are a 99% energy/spiritual being in a 1% meat suit or physical form. When we leave our bodies behind and return to our Source/God energy, we shed off all negativity or those thoughts, feeling, memories, pain, suffering, etc. that is not a vibrational match to Source. So once we are out of our bodies, we have no recollection of how we died or anything else negative that would have caused us to take our own life. Once we are planning to return to being in the physical, THEN is when we decide how to have more challenges in our next life and when we might choose to return disabled or with childhood cancer or with some other huge challenges.
Whenever we grow spiritually, by overcoming challenges, we cause the expansion of the Universe. We are, after all, extensions of the Creator. (Incidentally, just since the age of technology in the last 50-75 years, scientists are telling us that the Universe has begun expanding at a rate never before seen in the billions of years the Universe has been in existence.) We now have time to contemplate why we are here and what our purpose is since we have the survival thing pretty well in hand.
These are just a few of the things that I have learned from talking with people who have passed over the last 23 years. I have no opinions on it myself, except that I find it fascinating.
No one can ever really know what goes on in the mind of another person. Lee Thompson Young “didn’t drink or party,” says a source. Lee loved to travel and enjoy the beauty of life. He was always “gentle and unassuming”. Yet, sources close to the late actor say that he suffered from depressions for some time leading up to his suicide. Those close to Lee noticed things “really changed” a few years ago when he began practice Yoruba, an Africa-based religion which has a saying that means “death is preferable to ignominy.” Some have wondered whether this means that suicide is an acceptable way to preserve personal or family honor in the face of public shame. One could ask what could Lee Thompson Young possibly been ashamed of? It’s anyone’s guess. And, at what cost? Too many young people with their whole lives ahead of them choose a permanent solution to what can be a temporary problem. I am not blaming the Yoruba religion for Lee’s death. Perhaps Lee turned to Yoruba in the hopes of healing his depression and problems. When it comes to a clinical depression it is always best to seek out the help of a respected psychiatrist who is trained to heal depression and other clinical diagnoses. It is entirely possible to Lee might be alive today if someone helped him acknowledge, validate, and accept himself – flaws and all! That is something all of us must achieve. No one is perfect. The sooner we can accept our own limitations the better we can accept imperfections in others.
Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills psychotherapist and author, The Self-Aware Parent
Here at JD Journal, our heart goes out to Lee Thompson’s mother at this time, and all those who knew him. Hopefully, these thoughts have helped shed a little light on why this happened. Feel free to share your own thoughts and condolences in the comments below the article.