Monday, May 24, 2010

Only the Good Die Young?

With the massive amounts of unemployment, underemployment, and job insecurity today, it would be no surprise to find out suicide rates have increased or are increasing, especially amongst young men, who identify so closely with what they do. Many of these men are good, caring men, with a strong conscience, who want to make/leave the world a better place. Unfortunately, it is also these men, who will blame themselves and succumb to despair when not given the chance.

Michel Martin, host of Tell Me More on NPR lost her brother, Norman McQueen, Jr., a former New York City firefighter who aided relief efforts at ground zero in the aftermath on 9/11, to suicide, two weeks ago, today.

Rather than hide this tragedy, as many people often choose to do after the suicide of a loved one, Ms. Martin decided to share just how proud she was of her brother, a very good man, offering a commentary on the death of her only brother, Can I Just Tell You? Maybe Someday Love Will Cure Despair.

Now, I know some people think taking your own life is a selfish act, but I cannot bring myself to see it that way. I see it as self-less, in the sense that you come to believe your self has no value; that everyone would be better off without you.

I think my brother thought he was a failure, that with his long bout of unemployment he could not live up to what was expected of him as a man, and that we'd all be better off without him.

He was so wrong.

My brother was a good man. He was the first to offer to carry a bag of heavy groceries, to push a wheelchair up a steep ramp, to change a stranger's tire on a rainy night.

Years ago, when I was a newspaper reporter and working on a story in New York, he insisted on driving me to all my interviews because he thought I had been out of the 'hood too long and might not be able to handle myself. (I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had just had my car windows bashed in on the assignment I had just finished, and lived to tell about it. And I tried to remember not to mention it when I climbed up into an office building that had just been bombed.)

I am telling you all this because I refuse to be ashamed.


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