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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

If They Won't Tell You

Longtime ESPN journalist and personality John Saunders is dead at the age of 61. He was good. Really good. He always seemed to be having a good time, and to be legitimately joyful. Appearances can always deceive, I suppose.

In fact, I have to assume it was a suicide. If it were anything else, they'd say it, even if they had to say "apparent" first, pending an investigation. It may not have been. But when it is, we need to stop saying "passed away." A person who commits suicide doesn't "pass away". They violently took their own life. Whatever else we say about mental illness, and mitigating factors (especially as Catholics), we need to not surrender to a cultural tendency not to face the ugliness of this, and other things. 

To take another example, an artist who dies from a drug addiction is not "gone too soon." In one sense, yes. Middle age or younger is not the ordinary time to die. But we should expect to die, if we are doing things that cause death. It's not a misfortune; it's a choice. And we really should stop behaving as though a self-destructive person has contracted a rare disease out of the blue.

Which is not to say we shouldn't be sad, or that we can't appreciate the life they led, and be thankful. It is to say that the truth is the truth, and better to face it than to run from it. And we can certainly pray for the repose of John's soul, as we often do as Catholics.

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