Sunday, December 16, 2018

beauty's inner beast

My posts about suicide tend to attract angry comments from friends and strangers alike, probably because these commenters think I'm an un-compassionate bastard who hasn't thought the matter through regarding any given incident.

Well, at the risk of pissing those people off yet again, I present to you the sad case of Fox 2 Detroit meteorologist Jessica Starr, a 35-year-old wife and mother of two who recently committed suicide by hanging a few months after having undergone Lasik surgery. Her suicide stunned her fellow Fox News coworkers, and there was an outpouring of grief and sympathy online and via other media. Starr had apparently talked publicly about a harassing, insulting letter she had received regarding how she looked after just having given birth. This letter was, it seems, not the only malicious correspondence sent her way, and Starr noted that working in the media meant having to have a thick skin.

At a guess, Starr's skin was still too thin, and at a further guess, she knew she was beautiful (well, by some standards) and put a great deal of stock in her looks. She may have felt that the Lasik surgery, which some are describing as botched, somehow ruined her looks or, at the very least, had taken away her ability to function normally, thus preventing her from working and forcing her to take an inordinate amount of time to recover.

Was this enough to drive Starr into a depression? I don't know. What could make a woman with family obligations decide it was better to leave this plane of existence, abandoning her husband and children, than to tough it out and recover, however long such a recovery might take? The problem with depression in general is that, whatever may trigger it, it's a deep dive into selfishness. Sorry, folks, but this conclusion is inevitable when you examine what depression is and does. Depression causes the mind's focus to narrow until only the self is in view, and it closes off the possibility of any positive outcomes, leaving only the possibility of suicide as an escape from pain and misery. I can see how suicide might be a viable option if one is terminally ill and unwilling to prolong suffering—one's own and that of one's caregivers—but for a beautiful wife and mother to choose suicide after a possibly botched Lasik procedure just boggles my mind.

I'm reminded of that scene in "Se7en," in which a supermodel has her face disfigured by the cruel John Doe (Kevin Spacey), who gives her the choice between rescue by emergency workers and suicide, and the woman, because of her pride in her looks, chooses suicide over a life of disfigurement. There are plenty of superficial people in the world who have just such fucked-up priorities, and I can't help wondering whether Jessica Starr was one such person.

Of course, we don't know the whole story, and I don't know whether I'll be seeing any follow-up articles (I've just set up a Google news alert to ping me, so I might provide an update sooner or later). Maybe there was a suicide note. Maybe we'll find out the poor woman was in extreme agony and couldn't live with the pain. Who knows? But get this: she got the surgery this past October, but after two months, she hadn't sued the Lasik operators for malpractice, as far as I know, which makes the "botched surgery" idea a bit suspicious. Why would a wife and mother feel she had lost everything—if that's what she did feel—just because of a surgical procedure gone wrong? Did she forget she was a married mother? That there were obligations still tying her to this earth, to this life? I simply don't understand.

You may think I lack compassion because of what I've written, but I do feel compassion—for Starr's family. Don't take the focus off them, for they're the ones who have to suffer the consequences of Starr's actions.


John Mac said...

While I have empathy for those suffering from depression, the act of suicide is indeed nothing more than cruel selfishness. Yes, your pain is over but the pain is not gone, merely transferred to those who've been left behind. I also recall reading that children of those who kill themselves are more likely to take their own lives as well. What a legacy to pass on.

John from Daejeon said...

Ah...the Monday morning quarterbacks are out all over the web over this. We don't know what she felt at all, or what anyone else truly feels for that matter. I am just grateful that she didn't harm her own children as so many others have done.

I don't know if you recall, but at the time of David Carradine's death, we were informed by the media that he committed suicide which eventually turned out not to be the case (accidental death). So, who knows, Jessica Starr may well have not committed suicide either. And after decades of watching "Dateline NBC," "20/20," and other true crime shows, I've learned that very little is as clean cut as an online blurb or newspaper article before all the facts are in. Google the Wikipedia page for Robert Pastorelli of "Murphy Brown" fame to see for yourself because for many years everyone thought young mother Charemon Jonovich committed suicide leaving her child motherless. In the end, a Hollywood star took his own life because the police reopened her case years later and were, finally, closing a homicide 5 years after the supposed suicide/accident it was originally reported as.

Personally, I find it very sad that so many have compassion for all kinds of animals, pet environmental projects, those fighting cancer and other ailments, etc., but suicide due to mental illness is not regarded with the same kind of compassion but rather with contempt and scorn. In the end it could very well have been the stigma of mental illness that did in Jessica Starr, but I doubt we will ever know the whole truth.

Kevin Kim said...

Yes, David Carradine... accidental death by autoerotic asphyxiation, ja? Juicy. Given the strangeness of his life, I suppose it's only fitting that he check out in a strange way.