Saturday, February 5, 2011

His Name Was Jack

Last week at the age of twenty-two years he jumped from a building and ended his life.  His family, friends, and community are devastated and determined to make sure as many people as possible know as much as possible about mental illness.  You see, Jack suffered from Schizophrenia.  It's easy to say that he took his own life.  It's more complicated to consider that an illness which ravages the brain just as steadily and just as deadly as does, say, cancer ravage the body took his life.  It's also far easier to discuss death from identifiable physical conditions than to consider the stigma and the complications of mental illness.  Jack for all intents and purposes committed suicide.  The leap from the building, though, isn't what really killed him.  He died from the symptoms and behaviors associated with Schizophrenia.  We can say that he was ultimately responsible for that leap and we will be correct because, yes, we are all ultimately responsible for our actions even when we believe we have no choice and even when we are not completely in charge of ourselves.  Few things in life, though, are that clear and simple.
Jack's family asks that we educate ourselves and each other about mental illness.
I understand mental illness.  I spend my work days in the belly of the mental illness beast.  However, there's always more work to be done until perhaps some day another brilliant young man named Jack will have an easier landing from his constantly death defying/death inviting disease.

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