Musician Henry Rollins apologized for slamming people who commit suicide in an article for LA Weekly.
His Aug. 21 LA Weekly article, titled “F*** Suicide,” drew much criticism. It received more than 1,000 comments.
LA Weekly editor-in-chief Sarah Fenske estimated to iMediaEthics that complaints “numbered in the hundreds.”
Rollins’ article praised Williams’ work as an actor but questioned Williams’ death by suicide:
“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.”
He acknowledged “some people will disagree” and noted that no one can “understand” someone else’s problems.
“When you are severely depressed, it can be more isolating than anything else you have ever experienced,” he wrote. “In trying to make someone understand, you can only speak in approximation. You are truly on your own.” Rollins 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.”
Within a day of his article, Rollins apologized in an Aug. 22 letter on his website admitting “The anger is off the scale and in my opinion, well placed.”
An Apology: http://t.co/YvNvZoTQZn
— henryrollins (@henryrollins) August 23, 2014
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He acknowledged his article “caused a lot of hurt,” writing:
“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.”
Rollins said he has “had a life of depression” and “should have known better” but was “mad” at the situation.
“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.”
On Aug. 25, Rollins again apologized for his comments in a column for LA Weekly. In his Aug. 25 column, Rollins wrote, “I cannot defend the views I expressed.” He thanked the readers that challenged him and offered other perspectives and apologized again.
“To those I offended, I believe you and I apologize. If what I wrote causes you to toss me out of your boat, it is to my great regret, but I understand and thank you for your thoughts.”
LA Weekly‘s Fenske confirmed to iMediaEthics that the paper didn’t ask Rollins to apologize.
Read tweets about the column below;
Check out more reports on on the ethics of media’s coverage of Robin Williams’ August death.