Even if you think you do, you never really know people. Even the simplest, most humble person leads an immensely complex inner life. Just consider your own last 10 minutes or so: you’ve had thoughts you would never tell anyone, some of which might be unsettling even to you. We all have those. It’s human nature.
Naturally therefore, people surprise us. Take Lance Blanks, who sadly committed suicide earlier this week.
A lot of people forget that he started out at Virginia before transferring to Texas. He was good enough there to get to the NBA, although his career was brief and unremarkable.
People thought enough of him though that he had a long and fruitful NBA career after he stopped playing. He was a scout, a GM and a TV analyst.
Death always leaves a mark on loved ones left behind, but suicide leaves a burn like nothing else. It sears. Even if you half expect it, it still takes a very heavy toll. When a loved one dies a normal death, it’s sometimes a relief that the suffering has ended, sometimes a shock because it’s unexpected..but it’s natural.
When someone chooses to take their life, you never really get over that. The questions will always be there: could I have helped? Could I have stopped this? Why? Why? Why?
Blanks’s daughter, Riley, wrote an essay about her father that is quite powerful and we hope that you will read it. It is so many things: a grieving daughter who clearly idolized her father, a chance to direct the conversation about his suicide, which she does rather brilliantly and, naturally, a lamentation. It’s amazing that she could write so clearly so soon after his death. It’s a sad and lovely piece that will break your heart. God Bless the Blanks family.
On a slightly different note, it’s abundantly clear, or at least should be, that we are simply not dealing with mental health in this country and we really need to look at it with fresh eyes.
Blanks is just one small bit of a painful reality. The truth is that millions of people suffer silently, or, in many cases, which we see all too often in the news, not silently at all. Yet we seem to accept all the manifestations of this terrible epidemic that underlies so many of our problems.
The research Into psychedelics as a therapeutic tool is fascinating and should be more widely discussed. Researchers at Johns Hopkins, for instance, have found that Psilocybin can relieve major depression for up to a year. That won’t solve every mental health issue, but if you could give a seriously depressed person a year of relief, at a very minimal cost, well, why not? How many lives could that save?