I woke up to horrible new this morning: Kpop group SHINee member Kim Jonghyun found dead in his home in an apparent suicide.
He was 27.
As someone who reveled in turning 30 just last week, Jonghyun's death somehow felt like a gut-punch to me. Never mind that SHINee is one of my favorite Kpop acts, and Jonghyun had arguably the best male vocals in the business (his ending to SM The Ballad's 'Hot Times' is a master class). It's heartbreaking to see someone so at the end of his wits that the ultimate and lasting release of death was the better option.
At only 27 years of age. So much potential and life still ahead, but he couldn't see it. Even for me who have been through depression, I can't begin to imagine being in that place.
All the veneer of Jonghyun's success and veneration hid a deep trouble no one knew. Us fans on the outside can see but the happy side of fame and fortune, but we all have struggles, no matter the social standing. Money is a great problem solver yet it can never cover a hole that depression creates. To pull oneself out takes a combination of personal perseverance and outside help.
Unfortunately, in Asia it may still be shockingly taboo to seek psychological help, especially for a celebrity like Jonghyun. People would surely ask what can a world-class entertainer with all the accolades and money possibly have to be sad about? It's tremendous ignorance, and a total blind-spot of first-world Asia and its singular focus on equating success with happiness.
Let's be kind to one another. Appearances can mask hurt: reach out, simply to say hello. We are one in this world, and communication reaffirms it to those momentarily impeded from remembering.
Thank you, Jonghyun. I pray you've found your peace.