Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Michael Bryan: let’s not discount depression

I have a new post up at Global Comment'

On February 26th, Michael Bryan, the eighteen year old son of Marie Osmond, leapt to his death. The Osmond family has asked for prayers of support in this extremely difficult time. According to ET Online, Bryan left behind a note explaining that the suicide was motivated by his life-long battle with depression. He wrote that this battle left him “feeling as if he had no friends and could never fit in.” Although he entered rehab in 2007, the reasons for that were never publicly disclosed.

This is clearly a difficult time for Marie Osmond. Yet instead of conveying sympathy for her loss, comedian Roseanne Barr has publicly blamed Bryan’s apparent suicide on homophobia within the Mormon Church.

The church was very active in the fight to ban gay marriage in California and church doctrine considers same-sex attraction to be a sin. The church has also been known to practice aversion therapy, though its results have proven to be harmful. Barr attacked Marie Osmond in a blog post entitled marie osmonds gay son killed himself: “because he had been told how wrong and how sick he was every day of his life by his church and the people in it.”

Stating that “depression is a lie!”, Barr wrote:

“Marie please don’t talk about how your faith in your church has helped you get through this one! Please get some integrity and tell that church of yours that you will leave it and stop giving it ten percent of your money if they don’t stop trying to destroy your kids’ and all gay people’s civil rights and dreams and hopes!!”

Other than Republican Mitt Romney, the Osmonds remain the most public face of Mormonism in the U.S. and given the churches stance on homosexuality, it is quite easy to lash out at them.  Bryan’s death could publicly signify the toll of the homophobic behaviour engaged in by the Church, but since he never publicly stated that he was a gay man, any such assertion is conjecture. Using his death like this simply co-opts his existence.

What we do know, without doubt, is that Michael Bryan battled depression. The true nature of depression, like many mental illnesses, is often discounted despite its seriousness. GLBT youth are more likely to commit suicide than their cisgender heterosexual counterparts, but it is the addition of depression that turns rejection into a life-threatening circumstance.

Finish reading here