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The Tragedy That Is The Death Of Lee Thompson Young

by Emmanuel Akitobi
August 23, 2013 9:00 AM
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Earlier this week, former Disney Channel star, and current Rizzoli & Isles cast member Lee Thompson Young departed this world.

Since his August 19 death was announced, I've been inundated with requests from readers to address it here on S&A.  And to be quite honest, I was hesitant to do so.

I just didn't know what to say about it, except that I was tremendously saddened by the news when I heard it.  By all accounts, Lee Thompson Young was a beautiful person, inside and out.  And in the days following his death, I've not heard a single negative word spoken about the man.  It would appear that his affable on-screen persona was very similar to who Young actually was in real life.

The initial report of Young's death as a suicide is another reason I didn't want to address it immediately.  I hoped it wasn't true.  Because if it's true that he took his own life, that would mean that Young felt so alone, that he felt he had no one to turn to for help, with whatever was troubling him.  And alone is no way for anyone to die.

To die alone, the way Young did in his apartment, is an immeasurable tragedy.  As the star of Disney's action series, The Famous Jett Jackson, Young likely had millions of fans all over the world who still hold fond memories of his performance, more than a decade after the show ended.  Any one of them would have screamed at the top of their lungs to Young that he had plenty to live for.

But in the end, Young didn't hear the sound of adoring young fans screaming his name.  He likely heard silence; the silence of a young man struggling with what to do while in the most dire of straits.

Lee Thompson Young's decision to take his own life is one that the rest of us are left to ponder.  Were there signs?  Could anything have been done to prevent it?

We'll likely never know the answers to our questions.  There's nothing we can do about it now.  What we can do, though, is take better care of one another from now on.  The next time we ask a friend or loved one "How are you?", we can really mean it, instead of it being a simple pleasantry.

It's being reported that a private memorial service for Young will be held this morning at Paramount Studios in Hollywood.  While we all can't be there to remember and celebrate the life and career of Lee Thompson Young, where ever we happen to be, we can surely take a moment out of our day to reflect on our own lives, and reach out to someone we know who may be alone and in need of a friendly ear.

Rest in peace, Lee Thompson Young.

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  • maria | August 27, 2013 10:11 PMReply

    Sorry but thats my opinoin they need to look into it instead of being lazy!

  • maria | August 27, 2013 10:07 PMReply

    He was mutdered they need to do an an

  • Adam Scott Thompson | August 26, 2013 5:44 PMReply

    Death be not proud.

  • Keith Josef | August 26, 2013 5:31 PMReply

    As someone who lost a family member to suicide, I can say that the tragedy doesn't rest in dying alone. It's also not about what you could have done differently, or if you could have cared or loved more, etc. Depression disorders are like addictions. Despite the urgings and counseling of loved ones, the person suffering has to be ready and willing to do something about it. In my experience, so many people in our community dismiss depression and mental illness as a passing thing, or we mock it, or call the person weak. After my family member's suicide, I heard numerous people say "Nothing could ever make me kill myself" or "Suicide is such a selfish act". I urge people to pay attention to someone who's suffering from depression or mental illness and offer them resources in order to help themselves. The person really has to be willing and able to do the work.

  • Junie | August 26, 2013 10:48 AMReply

    I was super upset. I broke the news to my office and one of my good friends broke the news to me via twitter. I've been claiming Jett Jackson since I was like 10/13 years old. I loved his eyes.

    RIP. Who wouldn't? I even claimed him in high school when he had a bit of an acting drought. Also,

  • Christopher Phillips | August 25, 2013 1:21 PMReply

    Depression is a heavy chain weighing down one your heart and mind. Your ability to get out from under long term depression has nothing to do with career or family success. We may never know what was at the root of his depression. However, for all of us who know someone with depression we need to make sure we reach out to them and let them know we're there to help when needed.

  • Blackman | August 25, 2013 12:19 AMReply

    Please People Already!!!!

    This Black Stud was KILLED. There was NO EARTHLY reason for Lee to Kill himself. Methinks, the Filthy, stank, vermin that lurk in the shadows did this. Everytime THERE is a MAJOR White tradgedy (Glee dude) it is followed by a MANUFACTURED black tradgedy.


    To assuage White folks, keep them in line and make them feel better about being White. (even though they are living a lifestyle of misery surrounded by FEAR).

    So no, He did not kill himself. some body killed him the same way somebody killed that Girl that attended Obama's inauguration.

    If you ever felt oppression, you should not find this hard to believe.

  • Jessi | August 27, 2013 1:41 PM

    Except his own family have said that he suffered from depression before and had seen doctors about it, so you fail.

  • JDanielle | August 24, 2013 9:42 PMReply

    Thanks for posting this. I definitely have been a fan since childhood from his "Jett Jackson" days. Praying for his family. He was a gifted actor.

  • Jeff | August 24, 2013 11:26 AMReply

    Beautifully said.

  • Sydney Levine | August 23, 2013 11:11 PMReply

    Thank you for this kind and thoughtful piece. I feel so sad for him, his family. So irredeemable, such a sad loss.

  • bb | August 23, 2013 7:14 PMReply

    I personally contacted S&A because I felt that he wasn't getting the recognition he deserved. He was valued in life and in death. I didn't know him personally, but I've followed his career from The Famous Jett Jackson up to Rizzoli & Isles, and Lee seemed to be underappreciated (I know it's not a word) in my opinion. The boy had talent, and he matured into a man with even more talent that we will never get to see.

    Thank you for this post about him. He was definitely loved and appreciated in my eyes. And he will always be missed.

  • Ghost | August 24, 2013 10:04 PM

    Maybe his death should be a message that we need to start valuing our young black actors and actresses that are known for their TALENT and not their negative behavior (some of it they do on purpose for attention).
    How many roles, interviews or stories in magazines did he get passed over for because a Chris Brown threw a fit on Twitter? A Charlie Sheen meltdown? Lohan acting a fool?
    So while we are mourning Lee, maybe we should let our talented (and behaving) black actors/actress know that we appreciate them.

  • Jennifer Cottman | August 23, 2013 4:56 PMReply

    Sad and I'm sure you are correct about the "adoring fan, shouting You have everything to live for." Makes me very sad that as you say he was alone.

  • FilmGuy | August 23, 2013 12:37 PMReply

    To be young, gifted and black. Quite a lonely road to walk indeed. I wonder how many more of our talented men and women are suffering right at this moment, in need of a friend or some kind of reassurance that what they're doing is not in vain. Keep pushing y'all. Bless...

  • ShaLayla | August 23, 2013 11:57 AMReply

    Thank you for addressing it. My heart just hurts every time I see his face and realize what's happened. A loss truly felt because he was one of the good guys- not to imply that anyone deserves to go out that way, but it just really stings...

  • Rane | August 23, 2013 11:54 AMReply

    When I heard about this tragedy, I also thought of Tony Scott's suicide. Both talented and successful men with no dire physical health or relationship problems and I suspected anti-depressants and their connection to suicide ideation especially in males. An editor I work with just lost her stepson the same way. The problem is 60% of anti depressants are prescribed by GPs, not psychologists and too often these pills are given without any follow up or counselling. Add to that the deeper and troubling marketing and free samples given to GP's to hand out like candy to unsuspecting wounded people looking for a quick fix to life's problems. Another friend was given some by her GP when she complained of being depressed during her divorce... Instead of telling her it's natural to feel sad at a time like that, out come the pills. We're not meant to be happy every day and I believe that it's reckless endangerment when people who going through a rough time and aren't actually suffering from clinical depression are given anti depressants.

  • ChgoSista | August 23, 2013 10:15 AMReply

    Very nice, Mr. Akitobi.

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