May 5, 2012
Junior Seau's suicide hits close to home
By TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling
I am writing this column on Wednesday, May 2. Due to deadlines, it has to be submitted by today, so it comes out looking its best for you on Saturday. My editor -- Jan Murphy of The Kingston Whig-Standard -- does a great job checking facts so you, the reader of the newspaper and website, have the most information that you can get. Because of the mid-week deadline, more information on this week's subject may have been released between me writing it and you reading it. Keep that in mind as you read.
I had another column ready to go, but when I heard the news of National Football League great Junior Seau taking his own life, I had to change topics. I do not know any facts surrounding his death, I just really need to address some of my own opinions on this topic. I am not a therapist. I just write from my heart. I have experienced it first-hand.
When I was 15, I had a girl break up with me, leaving me utterly devastated. I felt so alone. I swore she was the love of my life. I remember feeling, at the time, that nobody would understand. I would look at her picture and wonder why a fellow 15-year-old wouldn't want to spend the rest of her life with me.
I remember coming home from school and being so sad that I actually wanted to end my own life. I first got a knife and thought to myself "I will slit my wrist." Then I talked myself out of it, being too grossed out by even the thought of it.
Maybe I could take pills, I thought. We really only had aspirin in my house and I couldn't even swallow big pills (I still can't).
I had another idea: I could jump out of my second-storey window. I opened it and looked down and said to myself "what if I am crippled or I don't do it right?"
This entire process took about 10 minutes, but for me, it seemed like an eternity. I remember thinking how hurt my mom would be if I did it. In hindsight, there's not way I would have ever gone through with it, but I certainly thought of it as a way to show a girl who had dumped me how much I cared for her.
Realistically though, who loses in that scenario? My point is that no matter how sad I felt, and even though I was young, it didn't mean I wasn't hurting. I can look back now and thank God I didn't go through with it. The best part of life is that it is always changing.
Yes, at times it gets rough, but if you can get through it one day at a time, and appreciate our short time on Earth, life is worth living. Yes, it's ever-changing. I honestly can't tell you how many women I have been with since my first girlfriend, as I have lived life like a rock star. I'm not trying to be braggadocios, rather I'm just trying to show how ridiculous the thought of suicide over a girl was for me.
The second and most shocking suicide I experienced was Chris Benoit. I will never understand why he did it, but I sure wish he would have reached out to the many people who loved him. Sadly, he took three lives -- that of his wife, Nancy (who was a friend of mine for many years), and their child, Daniel. I get asked a lot about Chris on Twitter. Sadly, his actions that day will forever overshadow his great wrestling career.
Hearing many of Junior Seau's former teammates tell stories of him reminded me so much of the day the Benoit tragedy occurred. "Shocked" was the word being repeated over and over. "He was such a happy guy." "He would do anything for others," I keep hearing them say. It was the same thing we all said when Chris died. Thankfully nobody else was hurt in the Seau case, unlike the Benoit case.
I met Seau twice, and while I can't say I know him, I can relate to his life.
I don't know why Junior Seau ended his life. I do know, however, that he gave his entire life to one thing, football. When it is over -- and this I know from experience -- it's hard to explain how much you miss it. I was a teenager when I started wrestling. There aren't any independent football leagues at which retired pros can go and have fun, as I do every week. There are very limited coaching and commentating jobs in the sport. It is hard restarting your life in your 40s; trust me, I know. I have been trying to find the next phase in my life.
Some people are going to say concussions caused him to do this. I disagree. An internal sadness and despair did this.
The only thing I want anyone who reads this column to get out of it is this: if you have a serious suicide thought, reach out to someone. If you feel you have no one, then call a suicide prevention hotline. And remember, life will change.
If anyone who has ever taken their lives could foresee exactly how devastated their families would be, they wouldn't go through with it.
I watched Junior Seau's mother and family at a news conference following his death and I was tearing up. I think if Junior Seau saw it, he would never have done what he did.
Please remember that in your darkest moment, someone does care. Don't let this happen again to anyone.
Thanks for reading.
TOMMY DREAMER LINKS
Tommy Dreamer is a legendary and influential pro wrestler and a father and husband who has worked for World Wrestling Entertainment, Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action. His column appears in the Kingston Whig-Standard and on SLAM! Wrestling. Follow him on Twitter @THETOMMYDREAMER and check out his website at thetommydreamer.com. He can be booked for live appearances through his website.