Today we woke up to the tragic news of Tony Scott’s suicide. Scott, brother of Ridley, directed such iconic films as Top Gun, True Romance and Man on Fire, and produced Prometheus and The A-Team. He was a talented filmmaker and was responsible for some of the most iconic scenes in cinema in the last thirty years. The news of his death was a total shock.
Depression can attack anyone. Depression doesn’t care about how successful you are, how much you earn, or how many people you have around you; it will make you feel like a failure, and completely alone. Scott was an artist, but at the same time he made many robust, strong action films. He did not fit the stereotype of a suicidal person.
The depressed are typecast. They are pigeonholed. The cultural view of a suicidal person is the thin, waiflike artistic individual. The person who locks themselves away to write poetry, who listens to The Cure, who only watches films like Donnie Darko or The Crow. When I was a sufferer, and when I finally talked to people about my problems, my friends were surprised. Yes, I am a pretentious musician and writer. My favourite band is Nine Inch Nails and love American Beauty. But I am a vibrant person. I talk for England. I sing constantly and it irritates a lot of people. I can watch Dumb & Dumber and laugh like an idiot. When I was at university, I went clubbing several times a week and can still happily listen to ‘emotionless’ fun music based solely around how good it is to dance to.
My point is that depression can affect anyone. The death of Gary Speed, a former footballer and Wales international coach, woke up the football community. Speed was a model professional, took care of his physical fitness, did a huge amount of community work and was an incredibly supportive individual to those around him. He was well-liked both in the football world and beyond.
In the world of such a masculine sport, he is not alone, either. German goalkeeper Robert Enke committed suicide, and Neil Lennon, Paul Merson and Stan Collymore have both spoken about their battles with depression. In American football, Terry Bradshaw was a sufferer. In cricket, Lou Vincent, who does a huge amount of work to raise awareness about mental illness.
For every person who society ‘expects’ to be more susceptible to depression – the artistic sorts like Woody Allen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt – there is another who is seen as immune. But it doesn’t work like that. Depression is debilitating and disabling, and it does its work completely unseen. It affects Jim Carrey and it affects Buzz Aldrin. And it isn’t a simple matter of ‘cheering yourself up’. It takes time to be able to successfully function again, and there are scars that never go away.
The point of this post is this: if you suffer yourself, if you are depressed, if you have feelings of killing yourself, it is not a shameful thing. Talk to someone. Consult a doctor, try and get counselling. It can destroy the best and brightest of us, and if it goes unchecked then the people who can combat it will only know when it is too late.