To The Point with Mike Hogan

Michael Hogan

By now you’ve heard that actor Owen Wilson, known for his role in the comedic gem “Wedding Crashers,” attempted suicide on August 26th. The media pounced on the story and the next day it was front-page news. Questions, of course, arose and answers were posited. The going theory is that he was suffering from depression following his breakup with actress Kate Hudson. I have my own question to ask. My question is, why is it any of our business?

Owen Wilson is a celebrity and, as a society, we are obsessed with celebrities. Every aspect of their lives fascinates us; what they eat, where they go at night, what they wear. But, isn’t there some kind of line that should be drawn between public and private, even for celebrities? Shouldn’t some things stay undisclosed, no matter who you are?

Let’s say he had chosen to make such an attempt in public, then, sure, it should be public knowledge. But Wilson made his attempt within the privacy of his own home. Privacy is the keyword here. Had he been successful in his attempt then, of course, the world should be told, answers should be given to the questions that would inevitably be asked. But, he did not succeed. He is not dead.

Let’s say for a moment that the same thing were to happen to your next-door neighbor. You likely would not find out until that neighbor chose to tell you. If, and when, that neighbor chose to tell you, it would be on his or her own terms. Of course, Owen Wilson is not just your next-door neighbor, but shouldn’t he still be afforded some level of privacy?

If Wilson were hospitalized for some other reason, a broken bone for instance, then perhaps I wouldn’t find it so egregious that the story would make the magazines. Often times a broken bone does not come along with major psychological baggage. Depression, on the other hand, is a whole different story. When the illness is something as complex as depression, a line should be drawn. Depression is a very personal and complicated illness to deal with, something no one should have to face with a million peering eyes on their back. When that depression reaches the point of suicidal tendencies, things get even more complicated.

Depression is a very difficult thing to face. It is an incredibly painful illness that affects almost every aspect of the victim’s being. That, in itself, is bad enough. When real suicidal thoughts enter into the person’s mindset the pain grows exponentially. By the time the depressed individual moves from suicidal thoughts to suicidal actions the agony has increased beyond anything imaginable. All of these feelings are nothing compared to the deeply entrenched emotional scars that form in the aftermath of having attempted to take one’s own life. There is a profound level of shame and anger that find their way into the psychological makeup of the victim. These are feelings that no person should ever have to experience in their lives, let alone doing so with the entire world knowing it.

Some people are stronger than others, some people have the courage to tell the world what they have done, others do not. The choice of whether or not to tell people should be up to the person who is experiencing the pain.

But Owen Wilson was never given the opportunity to choose when he should tell people about what he has done. He has not been given the chance to keep things private, if he chose to do so. That decision was taken away from him and now the world knows. Now he must deal with all of the psychological obstacles to come while the whole world watches. He will forever be known as a man who attempted to kill himself. From this point on his every move will be second-guessed. The world will always be on the lookout for a repeat. All we can do now is wish Mr. Wilson the best in his recovery. He has a long, tough road ahead of him.