Shut Up, Gene Simmons. Just Shut the F**k Up [UPDATE]

I was wrong about Kurt Cobain.  Very wrong.  More on that in a minute.

There’s been a lot of talk about depression in the wake of Robin Williams’ death.  Williams’ was apparently caught in what Winston Churchill used to call his “black dog,” a neurochemical imbalance that results in a crushing feeling of sadness and hopelessness.  Depression is a mental condition–there, I said it–that cannot be solved by telling the affected person to “cheer up” or “get your act together.”

In fact, that’s the worst thing you can tell a depressed person. Repeat after me: They.Can’t Help It.   And no amount of cajoling or scolding will change things.

Depressed people often known that they’re sad for no reason.  Their lives may be unbelievably great–or at least absent of horrible stuff–yet they still are weighed down by these grey clouds that prevent them from enjoying life. You think they like being depressed?  That this is their way of getting attention?  That they’re just lazy?

Depression comes in various shades, ranging from light grey to the darkest black that can oscillate back and forth.  Sometimes it’s just the time of year.  Other times it’s unpredictable.  And for some, it can be deadly.

When Kurt Cobain so famously checked out back in 1994, I was rather vocal about how I thought he was weak and selfish, someone who lacked the moral and physical fortitude to do the right thing.  I now see that I was very, very wrong.

I’m still annoyed that he took his own life, but I’m much, much more understanding of why he did it.  When a former colleague of mine decided he’d had enough a few years back, I was angry he did it–I still am–but I’m very aware of where his head was at when he made that choice. Depression can lead you down some very dark corridors against your will.

It is not–repeat NOT– that you’re weak. You’re ill. Your brain is not feeling right. You need help–or at the very least, understanding.

Margaret Wente wrote about Williams’ death the other day, quoting Stephen Fry who said that being a friend to a depressed person is hard, but it’s also the most important thing you can do.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I speak from personal experience. I’ve got more than a passing interest in the subject.

So when Gene Simmons comes out and says some unbelievably stupid shit about depressed people, he needs to he told to SHUT. THE. F**K. UP.

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, talk to someone.  There’s a way out from under that cloud.  Whatever you do, don’t just suffer in silence.

UPDATE:  Simmons has tried to apologize for his comments.  In fairness, you should take a look at this. Maybe he learned something. Maybe.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

11 thoughts on “Shut Up, Gene Simmons. Just Shut the F**k Up [UPDATE]

  • August 15, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Well said Alan.
    I agree with the about-face about Cobain (I was 19 when he died, and I still ‘needed’ him). I was angry that he quit. He was weak for giving in. He had EVERYTHING. Fame, fortune. Why would he do this.

    But times change. My opinion of depression has done a full 180.

    I think like most people, Williams’ death has impacted me in ways I didn’t anticipate. I didn’t know him. He sure didn’t know me.
    I knew his value. He was powerful. Dynamic.

    But to now appreciate the pain that must have been inside him makes it all more…real.

  • August 15, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    The problem with depression is that it tricks you into believing that the world is better off without you, and that you are a burden to everyone. For that reason, reaching out and being a friend is even more important.

  • August 15, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks for this, Alan.

    As an aside to your post, I find it both heart wrenching AND heart warming to hear that Francess Bean has reached out to comfort Zelda in this incredibly sad time of loss…

    … I think one of Mr. William’s most valuable legacies he’ll leave behind (other than his children) will be bringing this uncomfortable, difficult, and often misunderstood topic to a more public light. Depression and many other mental health diseases and disorders are real, serious, and potentially fatal.

    When people are in *THAT* much pain that suicide becomes an option, the need for understanding, recognition, validation, and HELP becomes paramount.

    We need to understand that there is more at play than we might realize or that we care to admit.
    We need to recognize the pain they’re in is real to them and that they aren’t looking to ‘hurt themselves’, they’re looking to make the hurt end.
    We need to validate the seriousness of the situation, regardless of our own suspicions of ‘cries for help’ because – newsflash! – if they’re crying for help or attention, then they likely NEED it!
    Most importantly, we need to get them the HELP that they need, and make sure they know it’s out there and how to go about finding it… and, most importantly, that they’re WORTH getting that help.

    No one ‘commits’ suicide – we need to stop treating it like a crime or even thinking that they had a choice. Can we *PLEASE* stop using this term?!
    People have thoughts of suicide, they attempt suicide and, sadly, sometimes they complete suicide.
    But people don’t ‘die from suicide’; when mental illness is present, they die from their illness (such as dying from depression).
    Suicide is often just a tragic symptom of a mental disease that turned fatal.

    If you see a need, however small, to intervene on behalf of a loved one, please remember the acronym ALGEE to help you help them:

    ASK! Ask flat out “Are you having thoughts of suicide?”. Use the word, be specific – it’ll be the hardest question you’ll likely ever ask, but it will NOT ‘give them the idea’ … they’ll likely be grateful for being able to talk about it with you.
    LISTEN! Listen *non-judgementally*!!!
    GIVE reassurance and information – tell them they’re loved, that they don’t have to go through this alone, and arm them with information on resources that are there to help them through.
    ENCOURAGE appropriate professional help for whatever they’re struggling with.
    ENCOURAGE on-going self-help and other support strategies and aids.

    Please remember to take care of yourself if you ever have to intervene for a loved one and, if you’re the one who needst he help, please *PLEASE* know you’re worth it and find a form of help you’re comfortable with. You are not alone.

    Ottawa Distress Centre’s Help Line # is 613.238.3311
    Ottawa Distress Centre’s Mental Health Crisis Line is # 613.722.6914
    You can ALWAYS call 9-1-1 if you’re not sure who you can call.
    You can ALWAYS go to ANY emergency room of ANY hospital if you’re having suicidal thoughts and feel you have nowhere else to turn.

    Please use these if you need to and know that someone loves you.

    Godspeed Mr. Williams.
    Still missing you, Mr. Cobain.

  • August 15, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    THANK YOU Alan for responding to Simmons’ ignorant,insensitive opinion as you have. I can say that as a sufferer of major clinical depression for most of my life,I can only hope that there may be more people like YOU in this world and fewer like HIM.
    Your ‘voice’ is greatly appreciated ….again….thank you.

  • August 16, 2014 at 8:14 am

    One of the best posts I’ve read explaining depression. I’m going through it right now, and it is so difficult to function. Sometimes it feels that the only reason I keep going on is I don’t want to be a statistic to my kids. They are beautiful and deserve a dad to be there… but it can be so hard. Luckily I also have a partner who does her best to help me through the darkness.
    I am on meds, and see a councillor weekly, but it doesn’t mean it makes it any easier. It is still a battle to keep going on. But I will!
    I was a big KISS fan, so it’s nice to know what Gene truly thinks of me.
    F*ck you Gene… you’ve given me a reason to keep fighting!

    And thank you Alan for putting into words what is so hard for so many of us to say. I hope people repost this on blogs or facebook pages. It is so important!

    Also to friends of depressed people… reach out & be there for them. So many of my friends want to give me space, but I don’t need space, aI need to know you’re there.

    Sorry for rant.

    • August 16, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Don’t be sorry for this! Your honesty and bravery are admirable!
      Best wishes to you on your journey to wellness – I hope that it’s short and as painless as possible.

  • Pingback: Shut Up, Gene Simmons. Just Shut the F**k Up [UPD… | Iain Grant

  • Pingback: A Journal of Musical ThingsHenry Rollins on Robin Williams' Death: "F**k Suicide" - A Journal of Musical Things

  • August 23, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Gene is talking about a decision made in a moment and how he would make a different decision. He didn’t feel what Cobain felt and both of their music are reflective of that. Entirely different people. Gene never will have the emotional capacity of a Cobain because he is just not created like that. That why I never ever bought his music and he is no one to look up to.

    I actually do recall him commenting on the death of Cobain and he said something like “more money for me or more women for me”. The point is he just can’t cross that line emotionally so lets just accept Gene as the person he is which is not much.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.