Kurt Cobain died 24 years ago yesterday. 24 years – how did that happen? I wasn’t a huge nirvana fan. I liked the songs they had released, but didn’t own t-shirts, CDs, or anything like that. I was sixteen years old, and in France, on a student exchange program on April 5, 1994. I stayed with a family of mom, dad, sixteen year old boy, and older daughter who was away at school. The mom was a teacher in the school her son, and therefore I, went to. My French brother, Julien, told me of Kurt’s death, over breakfast. It’s funny the memories that are triggered. Breakfast was hot chocolate, served in big bowls, and a croissant. How French!
Once it was obvious that suicide was the cause of death, everyone had an opinion. Most teens, felt he was a misunderstood star, not understanding depression. Most adults, and plenty of teens felt he was selfish, including me. He had a young daughter. How could he leave her? I thought he was even more effed up than had been apparent on the outside. I don’t know if I really knew what depression was at 16 years of age. Courtney Love was a bit nuts too, but she didn’t deserve to be left alone to raise her daughter. Selfish, selfish Cobain.
Although Cobain had always struggled in life, he spiraled down in the last few months. There were overdoses, that were likely suicide attempts. He was found on April 8, 1994. The coroner estimated he had died three days earlier. He had shot himself in the head, and did leave a suicide note.
I have known someone who committed suicide. I know she was not selfish. There is a saying that people do not kill themselves to end their lives, but to end the pain. That really puts it as well as anything else could. I am a sufferer of depression, who has met over a hundred fellow suffers over the last couple of years, through various programs. As a group we often discuss suicide. Most people in these programs have had suicidal thoughts at one point or another. When in their deepest depressions, they just cannot see how things are in reality. Their world is distorted. It is not a selfish, conscious choice, but a reaction out of shear desperation. As their depression lifts, suicidal thoughts lingers, but at this point, people tend to be able to see how it would hurt others, which often acts as a protective factor.
Obviously, I did not know Kurt Cobain, but it was most likely that he was in excruciating pain. A pain that most of you will thankfully never know. As such, listen to those with depression. Listen to their psychiatrists. Mine never undermined my feelings, until he felt I was well enough (but not cured yet) to think more rationally. He just tried to improve my depression so that I could function. He laid it on heavily about hurting others, once I was well enough to hear him. He could see a few months earlier it was impossible for me to even see outside myself.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out. Call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255). If you feel you can not keep yourself safe, call 911.