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While many of us are preoccupied with Tuesday’s election, Guy Fawkes Day or what titles we’ll pick up at the comic store, Matt Hawkins’ mind is on something far more important, and far more personal: that day, exactly two years ago, when he nearly took his own life.
On his Facebook page, the president and chief operating officer of Top Cow Productions writes frankly about what brought him to the brink of suicide — divorce, a messy personal life and a belief that his children would be better off without him — and just how close he came to going through with it.
“Once I made the decision to do it I recall feeling an odd sense of relief and calm, which is kind of frightening in retrospect,” Hawkins writes. “I spent a few hours putting my affairs in order and wrote a series of emails that I saved as drafts to send all at once so I wouldn’t see the responses. I hand wrote a letter to my boys essentially saying this wasn’t their fault and that I loved them. I left the letter on my table with a copy of my will, etc. I then drove down to Santa Monica beach with my gun in my computer bag and went down and sat on one of the cliffs there overlooking the water. I couldn’t think of a better place to die. I sat there thinking about things still oddly calm and ultimately the thought of missing out on my boys future and the possible stigmatizing of them from my own cowardly death shook me out of the calm fog. I started shaking violently and changed my mind.”
Although he notes “this is the one and only time in all my life I’ve thought or acted upon some sort of suicidal impulse,” Hawkins obviously isn’t alone (more than 38,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States; for every death there are an estimated eight to 25 attempts). And he’s not the only comics-industry figure to speak openly about suicide: It was only two months ago that artist Jason Pearson wrote about trying to kill himself the year before.
Disclosures like Hawkins’ and Pearson’s are important — for them, and for everyone else. They help to dismantle the stigma surrounding depression, and rattle our comfortable beliefs that we would never in a million years entertain thoughts of suicide (I imagine Hawkins, Pearson and thousands of others felt the same way at one time). It’s tough to say where a divorce, a layoff notice, a foreclosure or the death of a loved one will leave us.
But more important still is that they provide proof that it’s possible to move beyond that dark place.
“I’m publicizing this now partially because of the auspicious anniversary but mainly because I want anyone out there to know that no matter how dark things are at the moment they always get better,” Hawkins writes. “I have a terrific life, great family, phenomenal career and the best woman on the planet. It scares me to even consider that I would have missed out on all this.”