I woke up this morning to the news that former NFL Tight-end Aaron Hernandez had killed himself in his jail cell. Two years ago, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. When I heard that verdict, I remember saying they should watch him carefully because that kind of sentence, a destiny without hope for change, well that can just mess with your head and cause a person to say well if I am going to die here, there’s nothing to lose. But the years went by without incident and just recently, Hernandez went through another trial, this time for a double-murder that happened before his arrest. And just last week, he received a not-guilty verdict. He won his case but at the end of the day, he was still handcuffed and returned to jail because, life without parole.
Then today, this 27 year-old man decided life without parole wasn’t a life he wanted. Forget the possibility of appeal, he was out. He’d been a college athlete, one of the youngest players in the NFL lineup, a member of the celebrated New England Patriot team, known and lauded all over the country. And now that the high was over, he couldn’t handle the low. Regardless of his circumstances, here was a man who still had a fiancee, a baby, a mom, family members but none of that inspired him to want to continue living.
Suicide is really hard to hear about and it’s not something I joke about or make light of. There’s a movie that came out recently entitled Suicide Squad. I know it’s supposed to be about superheroes who take on difficult missions in exchange for reduced sentences or freedom or something like that but it’s not a movie I would ever watch – just because of the name. I know a lot of people don’t take my position, considering the movie has grossed almost $750M already. But this isn’t something I take lightly and want to make light of. I don’t think suicide is a word that should be banded about and given to children to roll around in their subconscious. A few days ago, someone I work with joked about people killing themselves and I shut that joke down really fast and had a talk with them – he kept saying, It was just a joke, I love life. I don’t think that’s funny.
There’s a quote I use all the time. Everything works out in the end; if it hasn’t worked out yet, it’s not the end.
You have to be patient. If you’re going through a difficult period, just endure. Do your best to change your situation and don’t give up. A person who gives up, also gives up on the opportunity that the situation can change. Prematurely ending the story in the middle, before the plot twist, before the resolution, well, that removes the possibility of overcoming.
Hernandez had an appeal coming. Jose Baez, the lawyer who was working with him on this most recent case was also the lawyer who worked to get Casey Anthony’s acquittal. I thought Baez/Hernandez would appeal and get the conviction overturned, at least achieve a possibility of rehabilitation and parole for this young man. There was hope! But he gave up, ended his story in the middle, where it was still hard. And that’s just sad.
Last week, there was a news report about a New York judge who had jumped in the Hudson river and killed herself. I watched the story, heard her list of accomplishments – she was the first Muslim female judge, first black woman on that bench, etc. A woman of accomplishments. A woman who had fought for her position. I didn’t believe the report of suicide. I said to my friend, a person that educated should have also learnt tools to handle whatever she was facing. And maybe I was right. This morning, they released an update that they are investigating suspicious circumstances that might prove her death was actually not suicide after all. Yes, she’d been stressed and going through some hardships but most people go through tough times all the time. Most of us don’t quit.
If you’re going through something difficult, don’t give up. As the world continues, more bad stuff will happen that will eclipse in severity the terrible things that you feel you’re experiencing now. So yeah, more disappointment is in the future. But here’s the good part. There’s more good to look forward to also. There’s good and there’s bad. There’s sunshine and rain. That’s life. Don’t give up on it.
If you ever need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, call 1-800-273-8255