Philip Seymour Hoffman is the latest in a long line of high-profile cases of self-destruction. He was found dead on his bathroom floor with the hypodermic needle still sticking in his arm. What an undignified way to go for such an incredible talent.

Things like this really piss me off. Entirely preventable, deaths like these that take such amazing gifts away from us are nothing but a waste. All deaths like this are a waste, actually. Mr. Hoffman isn’t the first, and he won’t be the last.

I used to think, “Why didn’t anybody stop him or her?” These people are surrounded by others. Sycophants, fans, managers, hangers-on, family members. For every person who dies this way, there was someone who looked the other way and/or enabled the downward spiral. I just couldn’t understand how this could happen.

But the fact is it happens every day to average citizens as well as superstars. No one was there to prevent my uncle from blowing his brains out in his garage, just as no one was there to stop James Dean from driving 70 miles per hour down Highway 466. No one is there to stop most jumpers from stepping off bridges, just as no one was there to keep the alcohol or the Seconal out of the hands of Judy Garland.

We find the famous deaths more tragic because we feel as if they had everything going for them, so it seems unthinkable that they’d throw it all away. Maybe fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. These people are treated like commodities, like money making machines, and they can never be sure who their friends really are. That’s got to be a horrible way to live your life.

Sadly, no matter how much you love someone, you can’t prevent them from destroying themselves if they are hellbent on walking that path. But you should never hesitate to try, at the very least. And that’s what often seems to be missing in these deaths for me: someone who seems to have tried. That’s the real tragedy here.

Life is a one-time gift. You’re a fool if you just casually discard it.

I’ll leave you with this ironic interview with James Dean, filmed just a few weeks before his fatal car crash, in which he was doing at least 70 mph in a 50 mph zone after having gotten a speeding ticket earlier in the day. A pity he didn’t take his own advice. (For those of you getting this via e-mail, the video can be found here:

8 thoughts on “Self-Destruction

  1. You’ve captured my thoughts exactly. It is sad to be so horribly alone or to feel like you’ve turned your head the other way when someone you love is doing something self destructive!

  2. Carole

    I get so outraged that I surprise myself that I am capable of such anger. This wasted life. After so many years of staying sober and drug free, what on earth would compel him to take that first step into self destruction. Surely, he was determined to end it all. The staggering amount of baggies found confirm that. But, he loved his children and they were so important to him, yet not enough to stave off his demons. I rage at all those that praise him as a hero, when in his final act on this earth was to turn his back on everything of value in his life, and succumb to a little pack of powder. I was so touched in your post about your Mother, when you posted a picture of her with the caption “My Mother, with her whole life ahead of her.” What life she lived was lived to it’s fullest and she left behind hearts filled with Love and Honor. I cannot say the same for Mr. Hoffman.

    1. Not defending him by any stretch of the imagination. I’m still pretty angry, too, but the man struggled with self-esteem issues and tended toward depression. He needed a lot of help, and had sought it out in the past. He’d been to rehab and done the work with 23 years of success, and that’s admirable. No one will ever know why he chose to fail so spectacularly in the end. My heart breaks for the children he left behind.

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