Depression, Suicide and Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons
According to a Fact Sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2010. There were 38,364 suicides in 2010 in the United States–an average of 105 each day.

Having bipolar disorder, depression has a major impact on my life. Standing on the proverbial ledge has led me to the emergency room three times. Once I was held in lockdown for ten days. Despite the seriousness of depression, there are times I try to make light of this horrible disease. I also make light of bipolar disorder at times. What I am unable to make light of is suicide. It is the one thing I cannot laugh about.

In a July 31 interview with Songfacts, Gene Simmons, lead singer of the rock band Kiss, had some despicable and ignorant comments about depression and suicide. Here is the part of the interview that has caused an uproar, and rightfully so. In the interview he said,

“The world is a harsh place.” My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I don’t want to hear fuck all about “the world as a harsh place.” She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life. And for a putz, 20-year-old kid to say, “I’m depressed, I live in Seattle.” Fuck you, then kill yourself. I never understand, because I always call them on their bluff. I’m the guy who says “Jump!” when there’s a guy on top of a building who says, “That’s it, I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to jump.” Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut the fuck up, have some dignity and jump! You’ve got the crowds.

As if that wasn’t enough, he continued,

By the way, you walk up to the same guy on a ledge who threatens to jump and put a gun to his head, ‘I’m going to blow your … head off!’ He’ll go, ‘Please don’t!’ It’s true. He’s not that insane.

This was a small part of a long interview and unlike what many believe, he was not speaking of Robin Williams’ death. The interview took place two weeks before Williams’ suicide. That doesn’t make his comments any less damaging. His words may have a powerful impact. Imagine a trouble youth who views Gene Simmmons as an icon and reads “a putz, 20-year-old kid to say, “I’m depressed, I live in Seattle.” Fuck you, then kill yourself.” This could be the catalyst for putting this kid over the edge. For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. The last thing they need is encouragement.

On Friday, August 15, Gene Simmons made an apology on his Facebook page. Here is part of his statement.

I want to make this statement about my views on depression for the record and to clarify my prior remarks.

To the extent my comments reported by the media speak of depression, I was wrong and in the spur of the moment made remarks that in hindsight were made without regard for those who truly suffer the struggles of depression. I sincerely apologize to those who were offended by my comments. I recognize that depression is very serious and very sad when it happens to anyone, especially loved ones. I deeply support and am empathetic to anyone suffering from any disease, especially depression.

So far radio stations in Canada, Australia and the United States have now banned Kiss music. Of course, the loss of the residuals will have little impact on the already wealthy, Gene Simmonss, but hopefully will generate further discussion about depression and suicide. Gene Simmons is a sad pathetic man. I don’t know if his apology is sincere or not, but it doesn’t matter to me. The damage has already been done.

6 comments on Depression, Suicide and Gene Simmons

    1. Because I don’t know Simmons personally, I can’t definitively say that he was just trying to cover his ass, However, I know where my thoughts lie and it’s hard for me to believe someone says the things he did about suicide and then two weeks later says “I deeply support and am empathetic to anyone suffering from any disease, especially depression.” I think he needs a new publicist. He needs one who can write a more believable apology.

      1. Suicide is never right, but its completly ignorant to mock it. I have struggled almost my entire life with depression. I have never beat it and may never be able to. I have so much compassion for others struggling because ive struggled. Suicide is never tje answer, but i refuse to judge anyone because im not in thier shoes

  1. For someone who does not like nor will ever like Kiss, I am not surprised that Gene Simmons made those statements about depression and suicide. I am equally not surprised that his apology was so shallow. He meant what he said the first time around. He should never have even tried to redact his comments. It would have been more sincere had he let his comments stand.

    And, regarding the comment about Seattle, he may have been speaking about Kurt Cobain who did indeed blow his head off while high on heroin back in 1994 around April, I think. Kurt Cobain was a fellow Bipolar. It does not surprise me that he would kill himself. Especially in light of his heroin addiction. For some reason addiction and Bipolar disorder make nice little bedfellows. I have yet to meet a person with Bipolar disorder who was not addicted to something.

    You have a very valid point about the influence of stardom. Unfortunately, celebrities wield a certain power that they do not know how to handle. Mark Chapman who shot John Lennon, the guy that tried to kill Ronald Reagan, the man that killed Rebecca Schaffer in the 80’s that led to people becoming aware of stalking. It is possible that Simmons remarks could put an already unstable young man (most Kiss fans I have known were men) right over that edge.

    You had mentioned in a previous comment that one of your favorite bands is Nirvana. I was all set to see them close the 1994 Lollapalooza show when Kurt Cobain killed himself. I did get the opportunity to see my favorite “I am a bipolar with a raging drug habit band” before the lead singer overdosed on heroin. Once again, Layne Staley was from the Seattle area, he had a wicked drug problem, and he was bipolar. He also had one of the most amazing and unique voices in grunge rock, and rock, in general. Alice in Chains may not have reached the stardom of Nirvana, but as far as grunge went, they were one of the best. It seems that many of the best and most brilliant of people in their fields suffer from either Depression or Bipolar disorder. According to Kay Jamison Redfield, many people who are exceptionally creative are also mentally ill. She herself suffers from Bipolar Type I, and is a leading figure in the research of Affective disorders.

    I, like you, will make light of Depression and Bipolar disorder among others because sometimes you have to just to get through it. I live across the street from the psych ward I seem not to be able to avoid, and when I moved in, I joked with my mother that now I can just walk to the ER and wouldn’t need to call 911. She laughed, I laughed, and it was all good, clean morbid fun. But, like you, I will never make light of suicide. Ever. I have come to close to the brink, and the older sister of my college boyfriend did complete her attempt. I cannot explain in words what it did to her family. I cannot explain in words how much my family worries about me. Death, in and of itself, leaves a hole in one’s life. When it is self-inflicted, it leaves more than a hole. It leaves questions that have no answers.

  2. Wow. What a memory you have. I don’t even remember when I posted about my love for Nirvana.

    Great comments and I agree that Simmons should have kept his mouth shut rather than apologize. I believe the apology he gave (or his publicist gave) was disingenuous.

  3. Gggrrrrr… the fact they banned the Kiss music is precisely the reason why he later apologised….he’s such a twat!

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