Robot 6

Read Matt Fraction’s heartfelt response to a fan considering suicide

Matt Fraction

Matt Fraction

Matt Fraction’s blog is always a fascinating read. In between the photos of Hawkeye cosplayers, comic art and pop-culture artifacts, the writer answers questions from fans with a refreshing, and frequently surprising, candor. But none has been as honest, as moving or as vital as his response to a reader’s question about depression, and suicide as a possible “alternative.”

After advising the fan to “seek professional help immediately,” Fraction reveals his own brush with suicide on a Thanksgiving night when he was still in high school.

“As I started to cut, as the corner touched my skin and that jolt of pain fired into my head, I stopped and thought — y’know, last chance. Are you SURE?” he writes. “And I was tired. I sounded like you, that I knew there’d be ups again and downs but I was just so fucking TIRED I couldn’t stand the thought of having to get there. I felt this … this never-ending crush of days that were grey and tepid but for some reason i was supposed to greet each one with a smile. the constant pressure of having to keep my shit in all the time was just exhausting.

“I wondered, then — well, is there anything you’re curious about,” he continues. “Anything you want to see play out. And I thought of a comic I was reading and I’d not figured out the end of the current storyline. And i realized I had curiosity. And that was the hook I’d hang my hat on. That by wanting to see how something played out I wasn’t really ready. That little sprout of a thing poking up through all that black earth kept me around a little longer. [...] A song, a comic, something dumb, something small. From that seed can come everything else, I swear to God.”

There’s much more to Fraction’s response, and it’s all well worth reading, whether you’ve ever considered suicide or not. Just have a tissue handy.

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Comments

32 Comments

That guy, honest to God, what a great person.

I’ve met Matt on a couple of occasions and he has always been polite, talkative, and nothing short of a delightful gentleman, he signed everything I could have hoped for and more. Was happy to talk about his work, comics in general and anything else I wanted. I had sky-high expectations when I met him, being such a huge fan of his writing, but I can tell you, I respect him as a person as much as an artist.

One of the nicest people you will ever meet.

I’ve been in the same position both Matt and this person were in, I had years of family dying around me and it got to the point I was just numb to life… As Matt said in his post, I knew there would be good times, but I felt too tired to get there. So many times I was at that point of no return and I did exactly what Matt said, rather than focusing on being too tired, I thought about what I would miss. I’d miss comics, video games, seeing a brand new awesome movie and no joke… What would happen on Breaking Bad!

No one in my personal life knows all this, and I have the benefit of posting in anonymity here, for Matt to post such an in depth and personal story on his blog, completely bare to see, it takes a real strength of character, so praise to Matt for that. He consistently comes across as a grounded, genuine and funny guy.

Where is the link for this specific post?

Hope the kid gets help. Glad Fraction answered the way it does, but I see why he turned off the Ask function. It can’t be easy to get messages like that from strangers. I hope words from a creator that the fan seems to respect greatly help and he listens to him and gets the help he needs. It was brave for Matt to write this response.

Think about what video games will be like ten years from now. Don’t die.

I have to admit, the curiosity that he speaks about is what has got me through some rough and dark times as well…

@Ben Hall: If you click on text that says “Fraction reveals his own brush with suicide” … or just go here: http://mattfraction.com/post/63999786236/sorry-to-put-this-on-you-but-i-have-an-honest-question

Wow. I have so much more respect for Matt Fraction now.

When I was in high school I had a friend die of cancer and I was already in some pretty freaking deep depression. I knew that things were gonna get real dark real fast, so my sister suggested I make a suicide list – a list of one hundred things that are cool enough to justify carrying on. My sister told me I did it wrong because it was full of tiny things (I wanted to finish Moby-Dick/I wanted to see if the Mets could actually ever stop sucking) but they helped. They really did. Basically what I’m saying is: he’s not kidding. That is brilliant advice.

Helping others is a wonderful thing; the single best thing any of us can do in this life, it could be argued.

But making a public spectacle out of how you’ve helped someone, so that everyone in the whole wide world can tweet and blog and post on Facebook about what a fantastic, incredible, amazing, nigh-perfect example of humanity you are…

…well, that’s just good old-fashioned narcissism.

(See also: “Here’s my huge, multi-website press release about how awesome I am for donating my Hawkeye royalties to hurricane relief,” instead of, say, just donating the money anonymously.)

“Think about what video games will be like ten years from now. Don’t die.”

Emphatic +1

@ Brief

really dude?

@ Brief – Honestly, I do see what you’re getting at. It’s awfully bleak and bitter and jaded…but I get it. All I’d say is that there’s nothing wrong with someone holding themselves up as an example. He’s a public figure, he answers anonymous mail from fans, he writes comics that people of all ages read and enjoy and are passionate about…and yet he’s been though shit too. Maybe he’s saying ‘this is what I do…why can’t you?’

I too respect celebrities who donate and give their time annonymously, but it also doesn’t hurt to read a story about a famous person, or someone who doesn’t have to, who goes out of their way to help someone else. I remember the story about Christian Bale after the shooting at the Dark Knight Rises screening going to visit some of the injured and wounded. Part of me thought about how it was just ‘good press’ for someone who needed it, or a famous actor stroking his own ego…but then the jaded, cynical part of me gave way and I just looked at the situation as someone who felt compelled to help. He knew that he had to do something, and giving money or going on TV and talking about how terrible it was wasn;t going to do it…so he slipped into the hospital and tried to help by being there. If I recall, it only got out because someone who worked at the hospital showed pictures on facebook…or maybe one of the victims family shared the moment and talked about how much it meant to them. Not everything is for ego…not everything is some calculated step to push someone’s star a little higher. Some people are just good people, who want to set a good example…and they know that others look up to them, and figure ‘what the heck’, it’s going to get out anyway…I might as well share this moment that touched me with everyone who visits my site, or respects me and my work.

So I get where you’re coming from Brief. Yes, it is a bit of a piece of shit move on your end to try and rain negativity on such a sincere, human moment…but maybe you’ve got issues too? Maybe you could use someone telling you to lighten up and try and look on the positive side of life for a change?

Personally, I found Matt’s response truly inspiring…and one of the most honest things I’ve read in a long time. Huge respect to him for sharing it on such a public forum, and peeling back a layer of himself even his wife didn’t know about to try and stop someone from possibly doing something terrible.

@Brief – Are you serious? Did you actually read what Fraction said? He’s not glorifying himself. He received that question from a fan – a question that could be on the minds of DOZENS, if not HUNDREDS of his fans who feel incredibly down or feel like life just isn’t worth it any more, and he put that response out there to let them know that yes, it’s hard, and sometimes life does drag you down, but you just need that something to hold on.

Also, Fraction himself DOES NOT dictate how people reblog or report on what he’s doing. This was a response posted on his blog that CBR jumped on; The same thing happened with his Hurricane Katrina donations, which probably would have gone unnoticed if the NEWS REPORTING SITES hadn’t jumped on it. He didn’t choose to have that out there, he quietly announced it on his blog. It really sounds, as suggested above, that YOU have some real issues with cynicism rather than this actually being a case of Fraction glorifying what he’s doing.

My friend chose to end his life on Monday. I wish I could have shown him this. I wish he’d asked for help for whatever was troubling him. I wish he’d given a sign – any sign at all. I wish he’d laughed and smiled less so I could have had any idea there was something darker going on behind his shining eyes.

Instead I have to go to his funeral next Tuesday. I’d much rather have gone to his 25th birthday next year… or his wedding… anything but this.

Ole, I’m so sorry for your loss. Tragic news.

Brief,

Your comments show a complete lack of understanding of the situation and the human spirit. Take a moment to really think about this — you’re projecting an awful lot of your own insecurities in to this situation. The story isn’t about Matt, it’s about his thoughtful response to a fan in need and if that thoughtful response helps just one other person with their own struggles, Matt’s spent his time wisely.

At no point in Matt’s write up are there any indications of narcissism or anything else close to that nature.

For those of you so cynical that you actually feel Fraction seized on this to “promote” himself, did you stop to think that the intention was to multiply the intended effect? Thousands have read his statements and I’m sure a good portion of them have at some time been in the same pit of despair that this fan is in. I’d not be surprised to fine out how many writers and other celebrities get these kinds of message frequently and simply ignore them.

@Brief

It’s only because the Internet reported that Fraction was going to donate the royalties from that Hawkeye issue that I thought to order two copies.

Are you the kind of person that sneers at anybody campaigning for an issue, because “they’re just doing it to make themselves feel better”? I’ll bet you are.

@ Brief

I think it is great that this gets this kind of attention. Not only is it a great post for people with dark thoughts to relate too and realize that there are indeed still things in life to look forward too; but also is this an inspiring post for all of humanity!

Do you think it was easy for Mr. Fraction to write, for the whole world to see while he hadn’t even told this to his wife, his life-partner, for so many years?! It is absolutely beautiful that he did choose to share his experience with everyone, just to help this one person! Just a very selfless act and utmost inspiring!

I thank you, Matt in the name of all this person his friends and family

(PS: pardon me for the not all too correct English, My native language is dutch (Belgium))

Come on peeps, all of you responding to the troll Brief is just feeding his negativity. Let’s focus on the reality of Matt’s post, which quite honestly was very helpful to me this morning. I needed to read his advice and I found it moving and uplifting. Awesome.

I read this and didn’t find anything cynical at all about what Fraction wrote. In fact, his initial comments are urging this guy to seek help as soon as possible and saying that he is entirely unqualified to help. Someone very close to me has attempted to kill themself on a couple of occassions now. It was only by pure luck that I got her to the hospital in time, but it was a pretty hairy time and pretty difficult for everyone. At the time, her state of mind was such that she didn’t see any alternatives. Killing herself was the only route available to her. She didn’t have any perspective on her situation and she needed other people to help her find that.

She is doing well now. The medication helps and when she feels down now, she can recognise that it isn’t going to be an indefinite thing. It will pass. She can call her friends and her family and they will help and will not judge her.

I can’t imagine that Matt Fraction didn’t agonise over every word in that post (I would find it terrifying), but anything that helps that person to find perspective and see the world in a more constructive way has to be positive.

So @ Brief, I’m afraid that I don’t share your view.

Regarding the Hurricaine Katrina issue of Hawkguy, there was a certain amount of hustling on his part to sell that. He publicised that he would donate his royalties ahead of the publication, to build up some publicity for the book. There is nothing wrong with that. It allowed people who wouldn’t normally buy the book to do so to support the charity. There is nothing wrong with him trying to promote his book. And there is nothing wrong with him telling people if/when he donates the money that came from their buying of that book to the charity. I don’t know if Hawkeye got a sales bump for that issue, but I sincerely hope that it did.

“But making a public spectacle out of how you’ve helped someone,”

is the best way to make sure that the helpful advice reaches the most people that it could possibly help.

Oh, sorry, were you going to say something else?

(See also: “Here’s my huge, multi-website press release about how awesome I am for donating my Hawkeye royalties to hurricane relief,” instead of, say, just donating the money anonymously.)

You do something like that publicly in order to inspire (or, to be as cynical as you, shame) other people to do the same. Because, hey, we all go through that phase of cynicism that you seem to be in the middle of right now, and, looking at it cynically, the donations of any one person (short of Bill Gates personally decimating viruses) are never going to make much difference. You can take that as a reason to do nothing, or you can take that as a reason to do everything in your power to inspire enough people that a difference can actually be achieved. I’m not a big fan of Fraction’s writing, to be honest, but his optimism seems to shine through what I have read, and I think it’s a big part of why he’s popular amid all the dark gritty cynical nihlistic crap.

@brief…what have you ever donated to anyone besides your opinion?

The Hawkeye issue benefitted Hurricane Sandy relief, not Katrina.

Thank you @Lorrie. I stand corrected.

Mummra the Ever Living

October 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I was asked a similar question by a total stranger about 5 years ago while working in call centre when I was at Uni.

My initial reaction was exactly the same as Fraction’s- to urge this person to seek professional help and point out just how massively unqualified I was to answer that question.

I only wish I was able to follow up as eloquently as Matt did here.

@ the cynicism seen here, I think there is a big difference between “look what I did- I’m so awesome” and “look what I did- you can too”

More people with Matt’s influence (particularly over such a devoted, vocal and powerful fan base) should take the time to help a stranger.

I often wonder wht happened to that stranger and if I could have done more.

What was the comic?

i’m over 40 and i still feel suicidal from time to time. I had a dysfunctional family and I’m broken from the inside. But I choose to live because I like life and i’m scared of dying.

Mummra the Ever Living

October 20, 2013 at 2:20 am

@ Cain Marco: I know you didn’t ask, but you may also want to seek some help if you feel that way.

Telling someone to stay alive for the starbucks coffee font is the most incredibly privileged thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Attack me if you want, I’m pretty sure people will, but I am currently, and have been suicidal for about a decade, and his advice about getting hobbies and being curious about the world is worthless to a severe depressive. The whole bum deal about depression is that it kills your interest in things you previously liked, and if your woes are in any way tied to finances you can’t even AFFORD starbucks coffee, so this is an incredibly stupid thing to say.
Props to him for trying. But he didn’t succeed and I’m hoping people don’t follow his example in trying to console suicidal people.
I think too many people are too quick to go “this is so inspiring” to hollow platitudes and drown out “cynics”.

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