tWitch, an amazing dancer and an overall inspiring human being, died of an apparent suicide today. According to TMZ's report, he checked himself into a motel less than a mile from his home. He booked just one night. When he was late to check out of his room, hotel employees went to his room and that's where they found him deceased in the bathroom from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
If you don't know who tWitch is, he was most famous for his role on The Ellen Show.
He burst onto the scene on the TV show 'So You Think You Can Dance' about a decade ago and has been in the public limelight since then.
His wife, Allison Holker, is a beautiful dancer. They have three beautiful kids, the youngest of whom is just three years old.
Just a few days ago, he posted this video on TikTok. He seemed to be just as happy and jovial as he has always seemed.
@twitchtok7 Love this dance by @shedancega & @Mr.animated ❤️❤️ Surprise cameos by @allisonholkerboss & #Zaia ♬ Lights, Camera, Action! - Remix - Instrumental - Mr.Cheeks
His passing is another painful reminder that is fragile. People who seem to have everything that life can offer are struggling in ways that most people around them never notice. It is a stark reminder that you should frequently check in on your loved ones because you never know what they are dealing with in their minds. Tell your friends you love them, because at any given moment, they might not even love themselves.
Life is hard, and we need to help each other through it.
tWitch's life is an incredibly steep price to pay for that reminder. The light that he brought into the world was infectious. I was fortunate enough to attend several events that he DJ'd for and his ability to connect with humans - literally any human in attendance - was nothing short of inspiring.
His impact on the world will not soon be forgotten.
The reminder to check in on loved ones is important. Every time someone takes their own life - something that happens far too frequently - that reminder is very clear. If you are anything like me, you soak that reminder in, reach out to others, and try your best to be kind for the next few days.
We should all remember that reminder forever. We should all check in on our friends more frequently than we do. Those are important things to takeaway from tragic events like tWitch's passing.
As I have ingested the news today, my mind hasn't gone to the place in normally does when I think of mental illness. Typically, I think of others and how I can help. Today, however, I have thought of tWitch, and remembered some of the darkest moments of my own life.
It wasn't very many years ago when the stigma around suicide was that people are 'selfish' or 'taking the easy way out.' The unspoken notion that everyone needed to buck-up and try harder was a very common way of thinking about suicide.
Over the last several years, we (the collective we - humanity) have learned more about mental illness and tend to have more empathy for the victims of suicide.
I've known a lot of people in my life, and while I'm sure there are exceptions, I've never met someone who really wants to take a gun with them into a motel bathroom and their own life.
And yet, those things happen. Why?
I'm not a doctor. I'm not a therapist. I'm not some educated person on the inner-workings of the human mind and mental health. The only thing that qualifies me to even talk about this is the same thing that qualifies all of us to talk about this - I'm a human, and I have my own human story to tell.
There has been an idea floating around in the wake of the tragic tWitch news that 'you never know what people are hiding.'
That's true. I didn't know tWitch personally. He could have been holding in some terrifyingly dark depression for years and been incredibly apt at putting on a face to hide it.
The unspoken conclusion to that narrative is, of course, that his depression is what led him to take his own life. We will probably never know what he was thinking or what he was struggling with.
I do, however, want to offer a different perspective based on a story from my own life. The prevailing thought that has been running through my head today hasn't been 'check in on your loved ones' as much as it has been 'in that moment, I bet it made perfect sense to tWitch.'
Let me explain...
When I was in high school, I had one very, very dark night. I don't remember what happened on this night to cause my spiral, but boy, do I ever remember the spiral. I was 16 and in my room. My sister was across the hall and my parents just down the hall. I didn't have access to very many things that would have been capable of ending my life, but at the bottom of the spiral fall that night, ending my life was the only thing that made sense.
So I rummaged around in the kitchen medicine cabinet in hopes of finding some pills. I decided that I would drink the pills down with some Drano. In my head, if the pills weren't going to be enough, the Drano chaser would surely do the trick.
It's been nearly two decades since this night. I don't remember if I ever actually took the pills and Drano to my room or not. One thing led to another and a friend reached out to me in the middle of the night and kind of talked me back to 'normal.'
That nameless friend is a hero for me. I owe him my life.
That night was my own little mini-miracle.
As I've thought about tWitch today, my thoughts have gone back to that night. In the nearly 20 years since then, I've thought about that night thousands of times. Every time I think about it, some variation of, 'what in the world were you thinking, Jeff?' comes to mind.
I've certainly had my struggles with anxiety and my own mental health struggles, but I would never say that depression was a cause. Since that night, I've never seriously considered taking my own life again. I've canceled plans due to anxiety. I've lied to friends or family to get out of plans to cover for a panic attack. But, I've never been anywhere near where I was that night. Every time I remember that day, I can't even comprehend what I was thinking.
I don't remember most of the specific details from that night, but I remember one thing as clear as any other memory in my mind: Suicide made perfect sense.
When stories like tWitch hit the newswire, I immediately want to reach out to my loved ones. I think that's a natural reaction that most of you who are still reading feel.
Today, though, I want to write to YOU. Not to you so that you can check in on your sister (please do that though!) or anyone else. No, this is for you.
The dark grapple of suicidal thoughts can certaintly linger for a lifetime while battling with depression. But, like it did for me that one night in high school, that dark hold can sneak up on you quickly.
I had never considered suicide before that night and I have never considered it since. But that night, it was the perfectly clear plan in my brain.
Looking back, that clarity is what was so damn terrifying. I've tried to put myself back in that night and figure out what my rationale was so that I can avoid thinking that in the future, but I've never been able to figure it out. I have too many good things in my life to let myself get that dark again.
But on that night, wow, it felt so clear. The only way to be happy was to end my life.
In my mind, it was going to make my parent's life easier. In my mind, it was going to make my friend's lives easier. In my mind, it was going to be better for me to not be here anymore. I couldn't have possibly talked myself out of it that night. It took someone else pulling me from it.
And that's the message I want to talk about today. Suicidal thoughts don't discriminate. They also don't, necessarily, fester for years and bubble up. Sometimes, at least in my own experience, there really aren't warning signs.
Given where my mind was on that night, it wouldn't have been a cowardly decision. It wouldn't have been a selfish decision. In fact, in the state of mind I was in on that particular day, it was honestly the most selfless thing I could have done.
While you're checking in on your sister or your best friend or your cousin you haven't talked to for a few years, make sure you also check in on yourself. If you aren't actively paying attention to yourself, your mind is capable of taking you places that might not seem possible right now. I don't know the science or statistics behind any of that, but I know where I was at when drinking Drano seemed like a good idea. It can happen quickly. It can happy to anyone. And, the scariest part of it all, it can feel like the perfectly right thing to do.
That's what is so terrifying to me.
Be kind to yourself. Compliment yourself. Reward yourself. Be positive about yourself. Take care of yourself. Love yourself.
If you or someone you know is suffering call or text 9-8-8, it is a 24/7 national hotline. Or reach a crisis counselor by text at 741-741