On Sunday morning I got a news alert that Phillip Seymour Hoffman, 46, was found with a needle in his arm dead of a drug overdose. I was a fan of his work. It was a sad way to wake up.
Next I took a walk downtown on a beautiful crisp Sunday morning. When I got home I learned that Stewart Oksenhorn, 50, took his life that morning. Stewart was a longtime member of our Colorado Mountain News Media family. For better than 20 years he was an icon at the Aspen Times covering fun stuff throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
Both men were about the same age. Both men entertained others for years. Yet both men had their challenges with life. How is it these tragedies happen without others able to notice and hopefully prevent the final outcome?
According to the New York Times, suicide has been sharply on the rise among middle-aged Americans. The article suggests that baby boomers dealing with years of economic crisis and the associated worry are especially vulnerable. Prescription painkillers are on the rise with this demographic. Experts expect this trend to continue to grow.
Life is full of challenges for all of us regardless of our background. But what is it that causes some of us to take our own lives while others learn to cope with life’s challenges?
My life hasn’t been a bed of roses. I hate to admit it to the world, but I have had very fleeting thoughts about leaving this world behind to escape. Unfortunately, some parts of our society put a stigma on therapy. In recent years I’ve practiced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, something I recommend to all. It has allowed me grow as a human being and to cope with stress that comes with life. Some people will read this and see me as having a weakness. I see it as having strength, as I was self-aware enough to make a positive step toward improvement.
If you have a friend or relative that you believe needs help, intervene. If you don’t know where to turn go to the United Way’s hotline; just dial 211 and they will send you in the right direction.
Hoffman did himself in because he allowed addiction to take over his life. Oksenhorn decided to leave this world for his own reasons. Both will be missed.