In the wake of yesterday’s unspeakable murder/suicide tragedy involving Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs, current NFL Network anchor and former MASN reporter Amber Theoharis sent out this tweet. I’m not sure that anyone who follows the Baltimore Orioles will ever forget those few days in August of 2011 surrounding the untimely death of Mike Flanagan. However the Belcher case is very different in that he opted to take his girlfriend with him, leaving a now orphaned three-month old daughter. In the coming days I’m sure that many people will start to speak of what a selfish and terrible act that Belcher committed. While that is certainly true, I think that the crux of this problem is more of what would bring someone to do something like this.
Someone I know tried to tell me that this probably had something to do with the concussion situation at hand in the NFL right now. Nothing could be further from the truth in my view. While I’m not a doctor, I don’t believe that numerous concussions would cause a person to commit acts like that. Without speculating any further, it’s obvious that Belcher was deranged and needed help. Perhaps he was under the care of a psychiatrist or a therapist of some sort; I really don’t know. However my point is more that as a society we should make a concentrated effort to recognize the warning signs of someone that might need our help.
Again, I’m not a doctor, however I do know that we’re all guilty of snickering behind people’s backs when we see someone that’s just a little different or a little bit off. This is not to say that Belcher did what he did because he overheard someone laughing at him, and the same goes for Mike Flanagan for that matter. However perhaps if we as a society reached out to help someone that might be in need, we’d see less of this. Again, I highly doubt that people kill themselves as a result of someone laughing at them. However if just one person took the time to ask that person if he’s okay or needs help, isn’t it possible that might bring him back from the brink (at least until he can seek further aid)?
All of this said, suicide is something that struck the Orioles very deeply about a year-and-a-half ago. Odds are that most people reading this did not know Mike Flanagan, as is probably the case with most Chiefs fans and Jovan Belcher. Yet in a way these people do feel like personal losses, because in a sense people get to know these guys without actually getting to know them. So I hope that I speak on behalf of Baltimore fans when I send my deepest of condolences to the Chiefs and their entire fan base. (This is especially true for head coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli, who apparently witnessed Belcher killing himself.) More importantly, I hope that the Belcher family and that of his late girlfriend are somehow able to make sense of this unthinkable tragedy and find the peace that they covet.
Maryland Statewide Crisis Hotline ~ 1-800-422-0009 (toll free)
Baltimore Suicide Prevention Hotline ~ 410-752-2272