I have been a fan of Lee Thompson since my college days when I would find myself watching The Famous Jett Jackson on the Disney channel despite it being meant for teens between the ages of 12 and 16. After all, here was an African-American movie star/spy who lived with his father and grandmother and got into various adventurous with his friends, how could I not find that interesting?
Lee also starred in the movie Friday Night Lights and was in Akeelah and The Bee .
Tragically however, Lee, who was currently starring in TNTs police drama Rizzoli & Isles, committed suicide on August 19th. He was just 29 years old.
I personally was shocked by the news of his death because he was a fairly low key actor. I never heard about him getting into trouble with the law, abusing drugs or alcohol or even much about him having any mental or emotional instability. I always assumed he was just doing fine and that is the danger when it comes to suicide.
As I have stated before, I have done a lot of crisis counseling in the aftermath of people who have committed suicide and often the words I hear from family members and friends is that they thought the person was doing just fine and their suicide came as a huge shock.
And this is where some of the stigma that surrounds mental illness comes into play. According to sources, Lee may have been battling depression quietly for a long time. Some are saying that he really changed once he started practicing an African religion called Yoruba, but it’s very likely that in an attempt to ease his depression, he sought refuge in religion and when that failed to lighten his depression, he unfortunately thought his only alternative was death.
Sources say that his mom was worried about him because many of his friends that lived in Los Angeles with him had moved and that he was surrounded mostly by “industry types” and not real friends. If this is true, definitely having a lack of a support system/network increases the chances of someone with suicidal thoughts to actually act on them.
Apparently Lee was close to his mother and sister, but probably out of pride and/or shame (stigma even), never told them about his depression or at least about how bad it really was. Many times men feel weak for feeling depressed and will hold it in and take their lives without anyone knowing how long they had been suffering.
His coworkers on the set of the show Rizzoli & Isles got suspicious when he didn’t show up for work and sent an officer to his house to check on him and that is where he was found dead. Jackson didn’t leave behind a suicide note, but sources say that he took his life with a gun.
This comes right after reality television star Gia Allemand (who was also 29) of Bachelor and Maxim modeling fame committed suicide by hanging herself with a vacuum cleaner cord two hours after her NBA boyfriend Ryan Anderson told her that he didn’t love her any more on August 12th.
According to Gia’s father, she had a long history struggling with dealing with rejection when it came to friends and boyfriends.
Honestly I didn’t know much about Gia until this happened. I remember getting ready for work when it came on the morning news show and I paused to listen to the story. It’s troubling to me when anyone who commits suicide, but it’s especially painful when people who are in the spot light commit suicide because that often sends a message to their fans and others that it’s okay to end your life if you think there is no other solution.
There are ALWAYS other solutions.
Unfortunately when you are in the middle of a deep depression or a mental/emotional/psychological break down, it’s easy to imagine that life will never get better, that it will never be as you want it to be and that death is an easy escape.
Suicide is a permanent decision to a temporary problem is a popular saying, but unfortunately suicidal people ususally believe that their problem is indeed permanent even when it’s not.
**If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)**