I’ve spent the morning watching the many dance videos of the amazingly talented Stephen “tWitch” Boss. Those videos used to bring me joy, but currently they just make me sad. I don’t know why I’m watching them now. Am I hoping for some kind of clue as to why someone who always projected joy and a love of life would choose to take his life in such a devastating way at age 40?
It’s true that no one really knows what’s going on behind someone’s public persona. There is no way to know what demons he was battling. He had no history of depression or drug use. His family life seemed incredibly happy. They had just moved into a 4 million dollar house, and in a recent interview he and his wife said they were thinking about having another baby, and he seemed very excited about that.
Every single person who knew him and released public statements seems to be in agreement about several things. tWitch was a joyous, positive, energetic person who lit up every room he entered. He was more universally loved in the dance industry than any other dancer. He was crazy about his wife and kids. If he sensed someone was having any kind of problem, he was always there to help.
So far, no one has said that he gave even the slightest indication that he was struggling in any way. Even the staff at the motel where he chose to end his life said he seemed pleasant and showed no signs of distress when he checked in. No one mentions him having any health issues, either mental or physical. No one reports him having said anything the least bit concerning in the days leading up to his suicide. Everyone who knew him, and every fan who loved him, is in shock. This came out of left field.
But this was not an impulsive suicide. He had given it some thought. He walked out of the house with just a small bag, probably containing the handgun. Instead of taking his car like he always did, he called an Uber. That Uber took him to the motel within walking distance of his house, and that’s where he shot himself. That leads me to believe that he didn’t want his family to have to deal with the blood and gore. He didn’t want them to remember the sound of the gunshot. It appears that he didn’t even want to inconvenience anyone by making them have to go pick up his car after he was gone. (And/or maybe he didn’t want anyone to see his car in the parking lot before the deed was done.)
He left a cryptic suicide note that alluded to past struggles and challenges. But if those struggles and challenges were in the past, why would he take his life now? We’ll never know, and that’s the worst part about it. We’ll never understand. I don’t suppose it matters if his fans ever understand, but I’m sure his loved ones will never completely understand, either.
That’s the cruelest thing about suicide: The people you leave behind are not only devastated and mourning, but they are also faced with the prospect of never having closure, ever. They get to walk around for the rest of their lives with a rusty, serrated blade in their hearts in the shape of a question mark.
It’s natural to want answers. But I have a new theory about suicide in general. I’m no professional, so I could be way off base. But here it is:
I think people view their lives as linear, with their past stretching straight behind them, and their future straight ahead. That’s a big mistake. That would mean that if you are standing in a bad place, you might assume that you can “look forward” to a future that will be equally bad. It is much easier to despair under those circumstances.
The thing is, our lives aren’t linear. I know that mine has taken several radical turns over time. There is no way I could have seen this future. I kind of wish I could have, because it would have been very comforting to realize everything turns out so well.
Suicide means you never get to know what’s around those corners. You’re selling yourself short. There are so many things that can radically change your life. Your path will change every time you make a choice, and you can kick-start that change any time you want to. Your life will change, too, due to outside elements over which you have no control. That makes the journey an adventure. If you leave before your time, you miss all of that.
The biggest secret adults keep from children is that even when you grow up, you never have it all figured out. It would be pretty darned boring if you did. Please don’t underestimate your potential, and don’t underestimate the world.
According to NBC News, the average person who is struggling with a mental health issue takes 11 years to seek help. That’s heartbreaking, and so unnecessary. If you are in crisis, please call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.
If your struggle is less urgent, then reach out to someone you love and trust, or reach out to a mental health professional. You don’t have to be alone in this. You can also call or text 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Support is also available via live chat.
Stick around. Savor every single page in the book of your life. As someone I loved very much used to say, “You only get a little bit of this. You’ll have an eternity of that.”
So, what’s your rush? Stay here and see how the story goes. I’ve never known anyone who regretted having done so.