22 Aug 2014

Why Henry Rollins' views on suicide make him a bit more of a cock than you'd already assumed he was


It's been impossible to not hear about the sad passing of Robin Williams, star of Mrs Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting and Good Morning Vietnam, and it seems that everyone has a bit of an opinion on the matter. Famously fearsome, famously fierce, but also famously a bit of a fuckwit, Henry Rollins is no exception, often finding a controversial standpoint for controversial standpoint's sake, as he said earlier this week;
"I have many records, books and films featuring people who have taken their own lives, and I regard them all with a bit of distain... 
Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it...Fuck suicide. Life isn’t anything but what you make it. For all the people who walked from the grocery store back to their house, only to be met by a robber who shot them in the head for nothing — you gotta hang in there."
The first time I heard mention of it was in a headline along the lines of 'Rollins criticises Robin Williams suicide' or whatever, and I just mulled over it with a disdainful "hmmm". And that's disdain, not 'distain'.

But earlier, scrolling bored through Facebook I stumbled upon a version of the headline supplemented by the appropriate pull quotes from Henry Rollins "essay" on suicide, depression and Robin Williams. "Wow", I thought, "what a fucking arsehole this guy is". He later goes on to talk about his brushes with depression, too, and how his friends suffered with that kind of thing. So it's some sort of surprise, that he later goes on to describe it as 'stupid', 'confusing' and 'selfish'. The phrase 'insensitive prick' springs immediately to mind.

Whilst it's no secret that Rollins is, umm, outspoken, and, well, not the brightest, this really grabbed me. Like, do people actually think that?

A gentle meander around the internet yields this thought too; people really can't get their head around what a mental illness is! And they really think people who commit suicide is nothing but a selfish gesture? Well, famously respectable, sophisticated wordsmith, Gene Simmons, responsible for such poems as Love Gun, I Want To Rock and Roll All Nite and I Was Made For Lovin' You has ALSO hit out at the 'selfish' people that commit suicide. Wow, you think, the bloke from Kiss and the guy that used to be in Black Flag. The Dream Team! What they say can't possibly be a stupid, headstrong, slur, can it? Well...


And I know, that there's no objective, right way to stand on events like this, and that morals aren't set in stone objectives rules shared by everybody. But opinions like 'suicide makes it impossible for me to feel sorry for them' that are born out of ignorance, and come from a position of influence that may make other people think this is an acceptable standpoint, are the kind of opinion that should stay muted, you know?

It's events like Robin Williams' tragic death that bring to light the ignorance people have for mental illness. Although, it's clear that people aren't educated enough when it comes to situations like this, which is sad really. I think maybe in institutions like schools should raise awareness of mental illness, like they're a physical illness or something very similar.

And as for Rollins, perhaps becoming more famous these days for preposterous statements - the last bastion for a has-been slipping out of the limelight - than he is for making (I say this guiltily) pretty top notch music, when he was Black Flag's vocalist. Statements like this are the kind that make you think 'fuck, I've lost all desire to ever listen to Damaged ever again'.

(written by calum cashin)