The loss...

Heath Ledger is dead. The tragic story unfolded in New York yesterday. A young man, with a two year old daughter is gone. Never mind that he was a bold, talented actor. I liked him in Knight’s Tale and Brokeback. His upcoming performance this summer as the Joker promises to make us all forget Jack – not that any of the movie goers are likely to have seen the original Batman.

There will be a reckoning of the impetus for this loss. Will it be ascribed to a possible addiction to chemicals? A blistering descent into madness brought on by his seeming fascination for dark and brooding roles? Or will there be some element of primal despair surrounding the end of his relationship to the mother of his daughter?

It is a known fact that men are substantially more likely to take their own lives. There are a number of reasons for this fact, relating to everything from cultural issues (Japan) to a reduced ability to self monitor possible psychological problems, depression. Mr. Ledger’s case may be further understood if we think of his added role as a father. Divorced or separated, fathers in similar situations run a risk ten times that of men on average.

What can be learned from this tragedy is that depression, substance abuse and other stressful circumstances can have a profound and devastating effect on the male psyche. It is my personal opinion that this has compounded in recent years, with the demasculinazation of our culture.

If you know someone in similar straits, make sure to reach out to them. Take time to listen to their concerns and point them towards professional help. The stigma associated with seeking out competent (and I mean professionally trained and licensed) help has long since past.


Beautifully written. I am deeply affected by this loss...I hate to say a modern day James Dean, but the analogy is apt. His talent burned on the screen, from THE PATRIOT onto BROKEBACK, which was one of the most honest, wrenching performances on film to date. What infuriates me is the much of the right wing blogosphere and pundits are attributing the death to his playing "the gay cowboy". One right wing LA shock jock said that he killed himself because he realized that he would only be remembered for playing "the gay cowboy". Bullshit. He was rightly proud of that role. His Joker, I think will be remarkable. It saddens me that he is dead, yet Brittney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsey Lohan still walk the planet. I hope that is not too harsh, just a fact.
Citizen Deux said…
A trifle harsh...

A lot of good young talent vanishes too soon. Sometimes it's like this and other times it is without notice.

I really liked him in Brothers Grimm