When shocking news like this breaks, our first instinct is to… well I don’t know what our first instinct is.
It’s different for all of us. Some of us cry. Some of us get angry. Some of us become obsessed with the morbid details of what happened. Some of us speculate on the causes.
Often, we argue. We argue about the cause. About whether speculating on the cause is appropriate. About whether reporting the cause is necessary.
All of a sudden we all become experts. Experts on fighting. On prescription medication. On media ethics. On mental health.
So much yelling.
It’s getting really loud in here, in this offseason.
I don’t know why we’re yelling. Maybe we’re yelling because we’re finding it impossible to wrap our heads around the recent deaths we’ve been seeing in the hockey community. If we yell the loudest about fighting, we won’t have to face the fact that we just don’t understand how or why these players keep dying so young. If we’re the angriest about how the NHL/NHLPA don’t do enough for players with mental health issues, then we don’t have to face the fact that we just don’t understand enough about mental health issues in the first place. If we’re loud, we don’t have to listen to the silence telling us how ignorant we really are.
We have very so very many questions, and so very few answers. Not having the answers is scary. And so we yell.
Maybe we need to be quiet for a bit. Not having the answers is an uncomfortable place to be. But the only way we’ll ever have the answers is by shutting up and listening.
Mental illnesses frighten us, in large part because we don’t know much about them, if at all. They won’t stop being frightening unless we admit our ignorance and open our minds up to learning about them.