LETTER: Chris Cornell and male suicide; It's not that uncommon

I never met Chris Cornell. Honestly, I wasn’t even a big fan, but Soundgarden played a huge part in the sound track of my youth. I saw them the first time in 1990 at the Gathering of the Tribes, and then a handle full of times after that. I am glad I got to see him at the Temple of the Dog shows last year. When we were doing the Icon Ice Cream Series, it was a customer's idea, and I liked the play on words, and I thought that if anyone deserved to be called a Seattle Icon, it was them. It was their manager that gave me the OK.

Cornell’s death rocked me.

Partly it was that both of my parents just passed. Also that he is my brothers age. Part of it was that I am going back through all my records and discovering things all over again, and I had just been listening to Soundgarden a couple days before. It was also that he is not the first in my age group to do this. In high school we were warned about teen suicide. There were all these posters about warning signs, and to seek help. When you hit your 40s they stop showing you those posters.

I can’t pretend to know what was going through Chris Cornell’s head that night. I don’t even know what was going through the heads of my friends when they killed themselves. I will say that I have seen it as an option myself. Not one that I was going to take, but a door I saw there none the less. I don’t know why that appeared now and not when I was 15. Maybe it has always been there, lurking in the corner, and I just never noticed it before. A quick google search though reveals that this is not a rare feeling for men.

The suicide rate for adult males is up 24 percent since 1999. It is the 10th biggest killer of men in the US. I didn't know a single person in my high school, or any neighboring school that committed suicide. I grew up in LA, so I am sure it happened, just by the sheer number of people, there had to have been someone.

If it did, it was not on my radar. As a middle aged man in Seattle, I have known plenty in the past few years. I can name four business owners, that I personally knew, who committed suicide since I opened my Full Tilt in White Center. Three guys I went to high school with are no longer here because they took their own lives. A quick scan of my Facebook friends list turns up a couple more guys I once knew. It was just a few years ago that we were mourning actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman from dying this same way.

Being an adult sucks, and I am not sure why being an adult male seems to suck enough to want to kill yourself. It seems to pass through all social, racial, and economical levels. Looking at Cornell, and Hoffman, they had little in common with some of my friends, except for this one thing. Except for this one moment when they all decided it was a good idea not to exist anymore.

Justin Cline

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