Pays au dela

"As to the natural parts I have, of which this is the essay, I find them to bow under the burden; my fancy and judgment do but grope in the dark, tripping and stumbling [wobbling] in the way, and when I have gone as far as I can, I am in no degree satisfied; I discover still a new and greater extent of land before me, with a troubled and imperfect sight and wrapped up in clouds, that I am not able to penetrate." Montaigne-"On the Education of Children"

My domain name, "Pais au dela," is the original French translated here as "extent of land before me." My goal for this page will be to explore, in an ambling way at times, the great land before me hoping to find clarity as I advance. I will focus centrally though not exclusively on mental health issues in my stumbling march forward.

Monday, December 3, 2012

NFL Murder-Suicide 1:Coach Crennel

On Saturday morning, Kansas City Chief's linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Kassandra Perkins. A short time later, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head at the team's practice facility. The couple leaves behind a three month old daughter Zoey born on September 11th.

The situation is overwhelmingly awful in all directions. The families and friends of both victims face unimaginable challenges that they surely never fathomed confronting before Saturday morning. I wish them every ounce of impossible strength and wisdom they will need to go forward. I wish the same to the Kansas City Chiefs and everyone connected with the team.

When I read or see reports of these killings, I can't stop thinking about Chief's head coach Romeo Crennel. Crennel, defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs, and Chief's general manager Scott Pioli witnessed the suicide and spoke with Belcher right before he shot himself. Coach Crennel had to continue in his role as team leader hours after he watched a young man he admired and respected violently take his own life right in front of him. I don't see how he was able to do anything at all after such trauma (and the word "trauma" doesn't feel like it's enough for how terrible this must have been). Survivor's guilt after a suicide can be crushing, and Coach Crennel hinted that he is susceptible to this common emotion during a press conference yesterday when he spoke about his final conversation with Belcher, "I wasn't able to reach the young man." Belcher's suicide was not Crennel's fault, but it can be extremely difficult for someone in his situation to get over all the "what if's." Crushed by witnessing death and potentially swamped beneath regrets and doubts about how it could have maybe gone down differently, Crennel still had to lead his team through the weekend. The decision about whether to play on Sunday was ultimately his, and he has had to remain in the public spotlight while he works through his own reactions to a gruesomely hollowing loss. I admire his strength and composure.

Trying to image how difficult and terrible this all must be for Crennel hits me very deeply on an emotional level. Here, I hesitate feeling like I might not have any right to connect myself to these people I have never met and their unspeakable pain. I honestly don't know if I'm doing the right thing by adding this last paragraph. I have wanted to end my own life, and so when I think about Romeo Crennel watching Jovan Belcher commit suicide, I drift towards harrowing thoughts about what would have happened if I had, about who would have made the terrible discovery, who would have been left to wonder "what if" on my behalf, about the amputated hopes and shattered lives left in the wake. And even though it didn't happen and even though it could have been worse, I know that for family and friends, particularly my ex-wife, living with the possibility and fear for months was scarring and shattering enough. I am sorry for putting you through that.