Henry Rollins is one of the most recognized people to come out of Washington D.C.'s hardcore scene. After a stint in DC's State of Alert (S.O.A.), Rollins spent several years fronting Black Flag. Since then, he started his own group called the Rollins Band and has become notable for his outspoken work in various forms of media.
For the past few years, he has written a column for LA Weekly. Last week, he wrote a column titled "Fuck Suicide."
It was not well received.
in the column, Rollins addressed the suicide of Robin Williams. Read the full column here. In part, Rollins wrote:
"But I simply cannot understand how any parent could kill themselves.
How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children? I don’t care how well adjusted your kid might be — choosing to kill yourself, rather than to be there for that child, is every shade of awful, traumatic and confusing. I think as soon as you have children, you waive your right to take your own life. No matter what mistakes you make in life, it should be your utmost goal not to traumatize your kids. So, you don’t kill yourself.
I know some people will disagree. And I get that you can’t understand anyone else’s torment. All that 'I feel your pain' stuff is bullshit and disrespectful. You can appreciate it, listen and support someone as best you can, but you can’t understand it. Depression is so personal and so unique to each of us that when you’re in its teeth, you think you invented it. You can understand your own, but that’s it. When you are severely depressed, it can be more isolating than anything else you have ever experienced. In trying to make someone understand, you can only speak in approximation. You are truly on your own."
He added, "Almost 40,000 people a year kill themselves in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In my opinion, that is 40,000 people who blew it."
The backlash was immediate.
Hours later, Rollins apologized for his column on his Facebook page. He wrote:
"For the last 9+ hours, I have been answering letters from people from all over the world. The anger is off the scale and in my opinion, well placed.
The article I wrote in the LA Weekly about suicide caused a lot of hurt. This is perhaps one of the bigger understatements of all time. I read all the letters. Some of them were very long and the disappointment, resentment and ringing clarity was jarring.
That I hurt anyone by what I said, and I did hurt many, disgusts me. It was not at all my intent but it most certainly was the result.
I have had a life of depression. Some days are excruciating. Knowing what I know and having been through what I have, I should have known better but I obviously did not. I get so mad when I hear that someone has died this way. Not mad at them, mad at whatever got them there and that no one magically appeared to somehow save them.
I am not asking for a break from the caning, take me to the woodshed as much as you see fit. If what I said has caused you to be done with me, I get it.
I wrote something for the LA Weekly that they will post on Monday.
I wanted to get this out at this moment.
I am deeply sorry. Down to my marrow. I can’t think that means anything to you, but I am. Completely sorry. It is not of my interest to hurt anyone but I know I did. Thank you for reading this. Henry"
LA Weekly has posted the new column. Read it here. Among other things, he said that he "had some work to do in order to educate myself further on this very complex and painful issue." In part, Rollins wrote:
"I cannot defend the views I expressed. I think that would be taking an easy out. I put them out there plainly and must suffer the slings and arrows — fair enough. I won’t attempt to dodge them. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t be taught a thing or two. I have no love for a fixed position on most things. I am always eager to learn something. I promise that I will dig in and educate myself on this and do my best to evolve. Again, thank you.
In the short amount of space afforded here, hear me out. Like a lot of people, I have battled depression all my life. It’s nothing special, in that it’s too common to be considered unique. This state has made me have to do things in a certain way to remain operational. There have been some truly awful stretches, as I am sure there have been for anyone who deals with depression, that have at times rendered me almost paralytic. Hours pass and I slow-cook on a cold spit. I have likened it to being a peach in a can of syrup yet fully conscious. In an attempt to keep moving along, I must stay in the immediate present tense, acutely aware of everything happening, like driving a car on a highway. If I conclude that I am not citizen grade, I do my best to avoid people so I do not act unpleasantly. No one deserves it. This has kept me in hotel rooms, my kitchen and the corners of gyms. When I have a show that night, it’s minute-to-minute.
One of the only things that gives me a breather is music. I medicate with it.
What has perhaps kept me from seeing things differently about severe depression is that I am sure I don’t have it."