With thanks to Russ Kane of Men’s Radio Station for this important message and allowing us to post.
Apologies - long post.
I have a huge adverse reaction to people jumping on 'the grief wagon'. So I'm sitting here wondering why the suicide of a woman I've never met, never watched on TV, has affected me on such a deep level? I've been trying to process what it is that has resonated with me. It's a combination of factors I think.
1. I feel so sorry for her parents & family. For her, the pain is over. For those left behind, the pain is only just beginning. They will torture themselves until the day they, too, die. They will forever ask themselves "Did we do enough? Why didn't we know? What could I have done to avoid this outcome?" The horrible truth is that those are questions that will never be answered & will haunt them forever. They will never accept that it was not their fault. Which it wasn't.
2. The sheer, utter pointlessness of it all. Suicide Prevention is a much-revisited theme on www.mensradiostation.com. I knew nothing about it, really, until a year ago. Every guest we've interviewed who has attempted suicide (or, as some eminent psychologists term it, 'self-murder') have all, without exception been so grateful that they failed and are still alive. All of them thought they were a burden, only to discover an outpouring of love from family & friends that has changed their lives. Every single person who has jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, and survived, has stated that the moment their fingertips let go, they instantly regretted their decision to die. It seems that there is no way out, but, there is. And that's the tragedy. The last thing to come out of Pandora's box was 'Hope'. Without hope, we feel completely lost. Being in a studio with the siblings of those who succeeded in dying has been the most emotional broadcasting experience of my life. Their pain is so raw & visceral it feels that you could reach out & touch it.
3. The hypocrisy: The same media outlets that hounded this tormented woman are now rapidly deleting rancid articles & saying what a tragedy it is. I can't even pretend to be annoyed - it's just the revolting way in which tabloids work. It sells. Certain 'showbiz journalists' are utterly beyond redemption. Meanwhile the wagons at ITV circle & protect certain stars & throw others straight under the bus. It's just how it works & it's far from fair or nice.
4. The pursuit of fame. The most diluted, pointless word in the English language is 'celebrity'. It is an utter pile of shit. Back in the day, there were true 'stars'. There still are - Springsteen, DeCaprio & many deserved others. But the obsession of reality shows, taking someone with no training, throwing them in the blinding spotlight, expecting them to cope, then telling them to f*** off when they are no further use, is utterly brutal. Who is to blame? Everyone! Everyone is complicit. The TV production companies, the advertisers in the ad breaks, the contestants themselves who crave it and yes, the viewers who lap this offal up by the bucketload. You all have dirty hands. Don't just blame TV - they are merely giving the public what it wants.
5. Social Media: It's ungovernable. It's the Wild West. When I was at Capital Radio for 20 years we had our huge share of 'disturbed haters'. We knew them because the letters were handwritten in green ink. The contents were always barking mad. But - consider this. They had to write a letter, get a stamp, find a postbox. It took a degree of effort. The 'keyboard warriors' of today can mess with someone with a few clicks of the keyboard. I puzzle how we went from 'Friends Reunited' (a fairly harmless way of communicating) to the trolling by people who are quite clearly as mad as a box of frogs & as vicious as a rabid dog. What does it say about the human condition? The hate is palpable, the loathing is limitless. Is this the white heat of technology...the revolution of the superhighway... so some utter moron can harass someone they've never met from their Mum's spare bedroom?
6. The CPS / Police. By any standard this was not a major crime. Unpleasant, yes, of course. But major? No. Yet hate preachers can spew their filth with almost impunity, knife crime soars, burglary rises. As the Jagger article quoted during the infamous drugs arrest in the 60's 'A butterfly on the wheel'. He's Sir Mick now. We've moved on.
7. The pointlessness of it all. Will anything change? No. Will people be kinder on social media? Unlikely. I read a tweet a few hours after Ms Flack's death was announced that was so disgusting I felt physically sick & I won't repeat its contents here. Will reality shows stop? Of course not. The world will move on. But not for the family. Long after the newshounds are on the scent of another 'scandal', long after this poor young woman is reduced to being a mention on the 'those we have lost in 2020' next December', her family & intimate friends will feel her loss like a physical pain. Trust me, I know.
8. Many of you have reached out to me in the past 24 hours with your own extraordinary stories. You are brave, resourceful & thank you for your extraordinary honesty. Some will now tell their stories publicly & I look forward to meeting you in the studio, some will, understandably keep a lower profile. You have my utter admiration.
9. You are NOT alone. We all have VERY dark thoughts. We beat ourselves up over our mistakes & failures. We rail against out frailties & weaknesses. We suffer from imposter syndrome. We think no one will understand. But they will. When Howard Jameson & I set up Men's Radio Station, I wrote the strapline "Where Men Really Talk" because keeping silent has disastrous consequences. I'd like to apply it to Women's Radio Station, too. Don't bottle it up. Talk. It's not a sign of weakness. You will not be judged. It's a sign of strength. If this sad, young death has highlighted anything at all, I hope it's that.
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