March 19, 2014

"Just what every successful woman wants chiselled on her gravestone: 'Herein lies the girlfriend of a man more famous than her.'"

Cries of sexism in the reporting of the death by suicide of fashion designer/Mick Jagger girlfriend L'Wren Scott.
Fashion writer Laurie Brookins tweeted: "You set feminism back 100 years, @NYTStyles, when you can't manage to put L'Wren Scott's name first in favor of who she dated #Disrespect."
This was a suicide, an act of murderous violence, and it includes all of the killer's loved ones as victims. I therefore have absolutely no problem with putting Mick Jagger first in these news reports.

My blog post 2 days ago only had 2 tags: Mick Jagger and suicide. Commenter rcommal said: "Tagging for this post is...interesting."

I responded: "Think about it as boring, because that does explain it, interestingly enough."

Is that too enigmatic? My point is that I had the option of creating a new tag for L'Wren Scott, because there wasn't an existing tag for her, as there was for Mick Jagger. If I didn't have a tag for her before — I doubt if I have any tags for individual fashion designers — I wasn't going to create one on the occasion of her suicide.

Let's not sentimentalize and melodramatize suicide. It is the murder of a human being, a human being who is getting away with murder. It is not a closed system of a unified murderer and victim. There are living victims, and in this case, one of those victims is a very famous artist whose work and life we have followed for half a century.

144 comments:

Strelnikov said...

Feminism needs to be set back at least 100 years.

Given how many time this has been claimed, where is feminism located right now? Middle Ages? BC?

Fen said...

I don't know, I think that if I am of sound mind, I have a right to take my own life.

Fen said...

Suicide shaming?

John Lynch said...

I think Althouse is very sensible about suicide. It's a shitty thing to do. Shame it. That's the correct response. In this case, shame saves lives.

It's hard for me to have sympathy for Mick Jagger, but I do now.

Also, I never would have heard of this woman if she hadn't been dating Mick Jagger. So... what's the problem with the reporting?

Henry said...

This was a suicide, an act of murderous violence, and it includes all of the killer's loved ones as victims.

It is also an act of cowardice. She appears to have succumbed to despair over the collapse of her business. By committing suicide she abandons the people who worked for her.

John Lynch said...

Geez, declare bankruptcy and start over. It's not like she'd be out on the street. Sell the big house, rent something smaller, and get back to work.

There's first world problems, then there's 1% problems.

surfed said...

Good summation in the last paragraph Althouse. Well said.

traditionalguy said...

Is this War on Suicidal Women?

Jay said...

You set feminism back 100 years

I find it comical there are people who take "feminism" seriously.

madAsHell said...

This was a suicide, an act of murderous violence,

I'm reading the post, and it appears that our hostess wrote this.

I would have said that suicide, and murderous violence were two different things, but maybe I'm going to learn something. Granted, German uses the term selbstmord, self-murder, so maybe I see a false distinction.

I understand that the cause of her death was asphyxiation by scarf on a doorknob. I don't see much violence in that.

Did our hostess conflate suicide, and murder??....or is she trying out for a job with the NYT?

George said...

She is only famous because she was Jagger's squeeze. Heck, she was only a "fashion designer" in the first place because she was Jagger's squeeze.

t-man said...

Sure, let's shame people who are so despondent that they are on the verge of suicide. That will help.

I also don't know if using the term "victims" for those left behind is wise. People thinking of suicide are thinking about other people. The problem is they either (1) know what the effect of the suicide will be on loved ones, but come to believe that it is still better to commit suicide; or (2) are so desperate to punish someone that they are willing to die to do it. In the second scenario, characterizing those affected by suicide as "victims" plays into and reinforces the motive.

Revenant said...

Is "successful" the right adjective for a person who was depressed, millions of dollars in debt, and running a failing company?

Jay said...

You set feminism back 100 years

Notice how broken up this goof is about Scott's death.

#Caring

Scott M said...

I don't know, I think that if I am of sound mind, I have a right to take my own life.

Possibly, but you have to admit that you're making victims of your children when you do so.

Fred Drinkwater said...

I am a "victim" of another person's suicide, per Althouse's definition.
However, speaking only for myself, I did, and do not, feel victimized. I do feel sad that I did not make the best choices about helping that person. I did not see the depths of despair underlying the surface requests for advice and minor material assistance. I do not blame anyone in particular, including the deceased, for what happened.
Another thought: many years ago, a distant relative killed himself, but that was likely caused by a very fast-growing brain tumor. I wonder if there are statistics on similar causes?
Pardon the affectless tone in this comment. I am trying to be careful about what I say.

Michael said...

I share the professor's views on suicide and am not sympathetic with a writer whose goal is to draw attention to her creds as a scolding cop. Maybe she should have written: "Just what every woman wants chiselled on her gravestone: 'Herein lies the woman who hung herself because her boyfriend dumped her and her business was failing.'"

Peter said...

"Cries of sexism in the reporting of the death by suicide of fashion designer/Mick Jagger girlfriend L'Wren Scott.

It may be bad feminism, but it's good journalism. The reason most will read articles about this is because of the connection to Mick Jagger.

And it's not going on her gravestone. Journalism is public; a gravestone is private. It would indeed be inappropriate to put this on her gravestone. But, it's good journalism to report it like this.

(And yes, let's not glamorize suicide. Unless you have severe, intractable pain it's an incredibly selfish act.)

William said...

My advice to any woman seeking gravitas and significance in her life is not to be Mick Jagger's girl friend. Men who play Bozo have similar problems maintaining decorum during funeral services so it's not a sexist thing.

El Camino Real said...

When I was in my 20's, a close friend's sister committed suicide. My friend and she were housemates. He found her.

I had never met her, but I was mad as the dickens at her. She did this to my friend. She was done. But he would live the rest of his life with the memory of finding her.

Suicide is the ultimate act of self indulgence. I realize that there is great suffering involved. But the real victims are the survivors. The suicide "victim" is dead.

El Camino Real said...

As we all will be.

EMD said...

Supposedly Mick asked her to 'tie the knot.'

mccullough said...

Shouldn't the gravestone say, "herein lies the girlfriend of Mick Jagger."

Richard Dolan said...

"It is the murder of a human being, a human being who is getting away with murder."

Althouse has an interesting (she might prefer 'boring') heirarchy of murder. Suicide is murder that someone "gets away with" - necessarily so, since there is no coming back from suicide, and thus nothing one can do to anyone who is successful at suicide. She famously wrote a while back here that abortion is also murder -- a form of murder that the law allows someone to get away with.

The constant in the two situations is her insistence that no one should "sentimentalize and melodramatize" the essence of both acts (murder, in both cases). She has been equally insistent in discussing abortion as murder in unsentimental ways, even if in her heirarchy it is not quite as serious a form of murder as infanticide. If I understand her correctly, the difference for Althouse between these forms of murder is both a matter of tone (suicide and infanticide are betrayals of fundamental values in ways that abortion is not, and thus are more properly condemned) and a matter of law (suicide and infanticide are properly treated as a crime, even if suicide can't be punished, while abortion is not because it is a form of murder justified in order to preserve what she sees as a higher value in a woman's control over her body).

I don't accept her heirarchy nor do I accept her use of 'murder' as a description covering all three cases. (As she well knows, the law recognizes categories of justifiable homicide, which by definition is not murder (I've never come across the phrase 'justifiable murder' in a legal context) -- though I have no doubt she has her reasons for preferring the term 'murder' here.)

You have to admire the rare candor on display in her discussion of these topics, as well as her rejection of the anodyne euphemisms often used to distract from the real ugliness of it all.

Gerrard787 said...

Murderous violence against oneself is very different then homicide. Why would any person commit such an act against oneself?

Despair and mental illness can lead otherwise sane folks to suicide. Applying 'rational' standards to individuals in severe mental distress does not sound rational to me.

SteveR said...

I am confident, and thankful, that no one will tweet about me when I die. That's disrespect.

tolkein said...

Ordzhonikze committed suicide. It was a way of avoiding the humiliation of show trials. Stalin regarded suicide as an act against Soviet power. So, I can see cases where I can understand suicide, but in general it is selfish and can be seen as an act of violence to others - just talk to train drivers who have to deal with 'jumpers'.

gerry said...

I also don't know if using the term "victims" for those left behind is wise.

Modern morality requires a victim for its amoral categorizations of right and wrong. In classical morality, some actions are intrinsically evil, and therefore immoral, but postmodern thinkers have no morality since everything is relational...to victims. Without a victim, if it feels good, it's OK!

By the way, shouldn't the sentence be "Herein lies the girlfriend of a man more famous than she"?

Sorun said...

"Just what every successful woman wants..."

How successful was she? Would a man $6 million in debt at the end be considered successful?

mrs.e said...

"Sure, let's shame people who are so despondent that they are on the verge of suicide. That will help"

This.

And on the topic of victims - Mick is only a victim, if he chooses to be. For you to label him that is purely conjecture (and likely, projection).

Biff said...

I've always had a cheerful baseline personality, and it was impossible for me to understand why people with depression couldn't just get over it.

Then I had my first bout of severe, major depression. I'm someone who has shrugged off some fairly major physical injuries, and they were nothing compared to the agony of severe depression. Things that had been simple and obvious became excruciating.

A few years ago, there was a commercial for a depression treatment, and one of its tag lines was "depression hurts." It's hard to describe to someone who hasn't experienced it just how true that line can be.

Even if the physical signs are not apparent, people who are depressed and suicidal are profoundly broken. For many of them, nearly every waking moment is consumed with shame, pain, and severely distorted thinking. "Shaming" them further is like putting someone with a broken leg on a treadmill before stabilizing the fracture in a cast.

Obviously, suicide is a crime of violence, and it can have dramatic, painful effects beyond the people who commit it. There have been periods of time in my life where I considered suicide on at least a daily basis.

Thinking of the pain that my suicide would cause others to feel was the only thing that kept me from committing it. At the same time, hearing remarks that could be construed as "suicide shaming" did nothing but increase my own pain and shame to the point that I just wanted the pain to stop. The resulting desperate thoughts of car crashes or other types of "accidents" were very nearly enough to overcome my concerns for other people. The lack of understanding from people close to me was extremely difficult thing to deal with, and only made things worse. (You? Don't be silly! How could someone so smart, so successful, with all of your advantages, be depressed? Are you crazy?) At some point, can't an individual's pain be greater than the pain they might cause others? It was a damned closely run thing.

I'm not excusing, condoning, or justifying suicide. It's a horrible thing to commit, and it's a horrible thing to contemplate. But, I understand how people can feel and think, to the very core of their being, that the alternative to suicide can be even more horrible, even if they are being treated for their condition.

Again, and I cannot emphasize this enough as someone who did not understand depression and suicide at all until I actually struggled directly with them myself, severe depression and suicidal thoughts are among the cruelest conditions that a person can experience, and even with skilled treatment, earnestly pursued, the outcome is often in doubt. Please don't make it worse.

Tarrou said...

Well, if women don't want to be associated with men more famous than they are, perhaps they should date people less famous than they are?

I mean, who the hell ever heard of "L'Wren" before this? And how many have heard of Mick Jagger? Isn't Jagger the person seen in person by the greatest number of humans ever in history? Men aren't often overshadowed by their girlfriends, but when they are, I would expect them to be noted as such. I can't imagine Kevin Federline's obituary failing to mention Britney Spears.

John A said...

Suicide is a particular case of the more general homicide. It is murder.

"It is not a closed system of a unified murderer and victim. There are living victims,..."
There are usually others affected by murder. And not just on the victim side, in many homicides the family and friends and so forth of the murderer are deeply affected with many effects.

And yes, about a decade ago I was institutionalized after an attempt. There were two of us, of maybe thirty people on the locked ward. Me, about 60, 220 pounds (after losing 60 in two months), six years out of work (no, if you were a computer programmer for 30 years you will BOT be hired as a parking-lot attendant) - and a very pretty 20-something woman. And yes, we had considered family and friends. Both of us had arrived at believing we were causing more pain for them long-term vs a relatively short-term five-stages-of-grief. Neither of us had children or other dependents, though.

I do not know the thoughts of Ms. Scott, but I can see that among those thoughts was that she had grievously harmed her friends, investors, employees, suppliers, distributors... Not really enough to go as far as she did, perhaps. My grandfather had a similar implosion in the Depression, but spent some twenty years working at a [relatively] low-paying job, putting half of his earnings (and some of his wife's, though most of hers went to the raising of four kids) into paying off his debts and some restitution for his former employees.

Biff said...

PS. Having said all that, I agree with the Professor's disinclination to "sentimentalize and melodramatize suicide." It should be discussed as precisely and as objectively as possible. However, part of that discussion should include examination of the thought processes of those contemplating suicide, for whom suicide may seem to be the most coldly rational action to take. Given the potential harm that arises from suicide, what actions are most likely to prevent it in the first place? The trick is finding answers to that question that make sense both to contemplators of suicide and to cruelly neutral observers.

Michael said...

There is a famous and excellent article in The New Yorker archives on the suicides of the Golden Gate Bridge. Find it and read it.

Of all the people who have leapt off the Golden Gate only a few have survived.

All of them say that the second they released their grip on the bridge they regretted their decision. All of them.

gadfly said...

Except for the road toadies that gathered no moss following the Rolling Stones and the gossip column freaks who hung on every piece of dirt uttered about the entertainment world - who knew who the person with the strange name of L'Wren Scott was? Certainly not me.

I was here when the British Invasion landed on American shores, but I only listened to the music and commented on how ugly Mick Jagger was - but until the Althouse piece the other day, I figured that Jagger hit on the the eager teenage girls that gathered with the band after every performance for sex.

Fame is fleeting at best for some and non-existent for most of us.

David said...

Boo-hoo, boo-hoo.
But, delicate little dears,
it's not about you.

John Lynch said...

Michael-

Is it this New Yorker article?

Michael said...

John Lynch: Yes it it! And thanks for covering for my laziness. It is a nice piece of writing on a very interesting topic. They have decided after all these years to install some sort of nets to stop the jumpers. They had refrained for aesthetic reasons.

B said...

"Just what every successful woman wants chiselled on her gravestone: 'Herein lies the girlfriend of a man more famous than her.'"

A very successful woman dated a wildly successful man. What did she expect would happen? Should we have a fit every time a first lady's obituary focuses on her president husband?

EMD said...

Here lies the girlfriend of Mick Jagger
Girlfriend in the sense that he'd shag her
She could no longer cope
So she used a scarf as a rope
And an L-shaped doorknob to gag her.

St. George said...

The story is what went on between Jagger and Scott in the hours, days, weeks, and months before her suicide.

Read a biography of the man, and you quickly learn that one of his hallmarks is disposing of/ignoring/leaving many, many lovers in his wake, often with extreme callousness.

Vanity Fair or the Enquirer will have the story.

John Lynch said...

So if Martha Stewart had killed herself would we have seen sympathetic news coverage?

I doubt it.

But she's made of sterner stuff.

RecChief said...

I'll just say that the name L'wren Scott, by itself, meant nothing to me. Who wsa/is L'Wren Scott, and while any suicide is tragic, why should her suicide have any meaning to me beyond that?

By providing the context of the more famous person that she is romatically linked to, it provides a frame of reference if someone attaches significance to Mick Jagger in his/her daily life.

Perhaps the person who wrote that sentence should get her panties unbunched and realize that without that context, a lot of people would shrug their shoulders and move on. Maybe she shouldn't see the whole world wxclusively through the lens of her personal issue, and think about that as a descriptor for why NYStyles thinks we should think her suicide is more newsworthy than SGT Jone's or Airman Smith's.

virgil xenophon said...

tolkein@11:44/

Yes, post-War when Hitler's Minster for Aviation Reichsmarshall Goring committed suicide in his cell via smuggled cyanide pill after being sentenced to death for war crimes the headlines read: " Goring Cheats Death!" (i.e., by the State)

jr565 said...

I'd never heard of her. That doesn't necessarily mean that much. She could be famous in her circle, but not well known to people outside her circle.
Jagger is famous to everyone.
HE's so famous Maroon 5 makes a song about "Moves like Jagger". How many people are so famous that they have songs written about their moves?
Jagger is that famous. And so, if you date someeone that famous your light will not shine as brightly in the public.

Kevin said...

If you want to be recognized for yourself and your own achievements don't hang around with one of the 100 most famous people on the planet. I find it very easy INDEED to not hang around with one of the 100 most famous people on the planet.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Parker said...

Denis Thatcher could not be reached for comment.

Sigivald said...

It is the murder of a human being, a human being who is getting away with murder.

What does "murder" mean in this usage?

(I agree we shouldn't sentimentalize or celebrate suicide, but ... simply asserting its identity with murder - the old "self-murder" - assumes too much.

Unless we assume the old "your life is a gift from God and not yours", it is very, very hard to justify calling suicide murder.

It can still be morally wrong because of its effect on others, but "murder" becomes very hard to justify.

And of course the mere law doesn't consider it murder at all.)

PB Reader said...

There is no such thing as a living victim of a successful suicide. Certainly it creates a huge emotional impact and represents a very personal loss, but victim? No.

Kelly said...

My Dad is 71 years old. In mid February of this year he found his step granddaughter dead from a drug overdose. Suicide is a selfish act. Someone has to find your body and most likely it's going to be a loved one. My dad has aged ten years since he found her. What a crappy thing for her to do to the one person in her life who did nothing but try to help.

John A said...

Sigivald, I think suicide has been considered murder for a long time, indeed. Preceding most current religions. In a tribe of perhaps 100 or fewer migratory people, the loss of any one person, at least one of an age and health allowing labor participation, was an act against the whole tribe - just as was killing another person of similar health.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Mick Jagger, who sings for the Stones,
Has a collection of Chicks that he bones.
This one dealt with the strife
By taking her life
Then hooking up with Brian Jones.

David said...

And then there's Hunter Thompson, who shot himself in the head during a phone conversation with his estranged (divorced?) wife while he was in the next room of his house from where some of this children were sitting.

An asshole to the very end.

And people still worship him because he was so "edgy." Many even thought the suicide was really cool.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

*more famous than she

FullMoon said...

Here we go again:
The same people who believe standing up to a violent bully will make him back down and all will be well are the same people who say" Well, all she had to do is.... and Gee I can't understand why any body would...."
Of course you can't understand, that's your fkn problem.

On the other hand, the problem with committing suicide as a means to punish others is that you will not be around to see them suffer.

Scott M said...

The same people who believe standing up to a violent bully will make him back down and all will be well

I don't think a single person that ever gave me this sort of advice for dealing with bullies said "all was going to be well" afterwards. You have to protect yourself. Standing up to a bully is a side-effect and sometimes deters future behavior because most of them are cowards. That doesn't mean you can suddenly drop your guard, or that cowards don't flock together in the face of strength sometimes.

Real life is complicated. Try not to get hurt navigating through it.

n.n said...

Sigivald:

Murder describes an action which causes an unnatural death. It may be elective (e.g. abortion). It may be sanctioned (e.g. self-defense). In the strictest sense, suicide is a murder. The overlap of perpetrator and victim in a suicide is an oddity, which does not change the character of the outcome. There is someone who murders and someone who is murdered. It's kind of paradoxical or perhaps schizophrenic, but still coherent and consistent.

Valentine Smith said...

I recommend Emile Durkheim's fascinating "Suicide." Among many other things, suicide sometimes works like a viral or bacterial infection. It certainly runs in families after the original authority figure essentially gives "permission" for other family members to follow the self-murderer's path. It is a truly heinous crime that reverberates far into the future.

My experience: a neighbor and friend I grew up with killed himself at the age of 19. Over the years I would occasionly see his father, whom I knew to be a hard-working sober man, dribbling beer down his bib in local saloons. I lost contact and about 20 years later I'm reading the NY Daily News and on about page 17 there's a picture of the old gent with a blood saturated shirt being led away by the cops. He had stuck a butcher knife in his elderly landlady killing her.

Many if not most suicides are the ultimate FUCK YOU. And the murderer deserves the utmost contempt.

Freder Frederson said...

Let's not sentimentalize and melodramatize suicide. It is the murder of a human being, a human being who is getting away with murder.

Are you completely lacking in empathy?

heyboom said...

My brother committed suicide almost 13 years ago (I received his suicide note in the mail two days later) and not one of us in the family considers ourselves a victim in any way whatsoever. We mourn and we miss him and speak lovingly of him always and our lives go on. We carry no guilt whatsoever. And we don't judge him for what he did because even as close as we were to him, not one of us can say what he was feeling that day he decided to take his life.

Those who say suicide is a selfish act are being selfish themselves by making the event all about themselves.

Freder Frederson said...

I think Althouse is very sensible about suicide. It's a shitty thing to do. Shame it.

Yes that is exactly what a severely depressed, suicidal person needs, to be told she is a bad person for contemplating suicide.

t-man said...

Bloody Valentine -

Maybe your impression of the hard-working sober man was wrong, and he was actually a cause, not the effect of the son's suicide.

elkh1 said...

L'Wren Scott, who?

Many people heard of Sir Mick, only fashionistas heard of L'Wren Scott.

SOJO said...


My entire family on my father's side has been suicidal at one time or another. We look at it with dark humor and handle each other's forays into the bleakness with an understanding of what is behind it and that there most likely is a genetic component at play. (It works. Go Family!)

A judgmental attitude would just further isolate and alienate the person who is already suffering. I don't agree with the people who think suicide is easy. It's not. It's very hard to knowingly make yourself die, even if you are in pain.

Regarding the main point of the post: I have almost no respect for Mick Jagger, so I can understand the feminists' dismay, however, L'wren clearly felt differently.


Valentine Smith said...

No t-man, he was a coddled little motherless narcissist
who was also a bully and a coward.

I stood up to him and we became friends.

t-man said...

Well, you don't really hear about too many relatives of suicides acting out by plunging a knife into an old woman. I'm guessing he had other problems as well.

Curious George said...

I seems the only other thing she was successful at was offing herself. Do they want that on her tombstone?

Revenant said...

Yes that is exactly what a severely depressed, suicidal person needs, to be told she is a bad person for contemplating suicide.

Shame, sympathy, indifference -- all of these things can serve as "justification" for suicide.

This is a mental health issue. There is no "safe" thing to say to mentally ill people, because by definition their brains aren't working correctly. They need treatment, not words.

Revenant said...

Carl Thomas Dean has had a long career in the asphalt and paving business. If he committed suicide tomorrow, which headline would the papers go with:

1. Nashville Businessman Commits Suicide

2. Husband of Dolly Parton Commits Suicide

The answer's kind of obvious, isn't it? There's no "feminist" angle here -- this is just how celebrity news works.

n.n said...

Revenant, very reasonable on both points: celebrity and mental illness. Fame precedes individual dignity in our popular culture, as well as serves as a natural reference. Murder without cause or due process (e.g. treatment) is not something society should normalize or even tolerate. Even lunatics have a room in a civilized society.

sydney said...

How certain are they this was a suicide? No suicide note. Unusual way to hang yourself, from a doorknob. But, it would be a convenient way for a short person who murdered a tall person to make it look like a suicide, wouldn't it? It would be very hard for a short person to get a tall body up to a height to fake a traditional suicide by hanging. I am skeptical of the suicide claim. But maybe I have just been watching too many Inspector Lewis episodes.

heyboom said...

There is no "safe" thing to say to mentally ill people, because by definition their brains aren't working correctly.

My brother never had any indications of mental illness in the classic sense during his entire life. He was incredibly smart, talented and creative. He was sociable and seemed to enjoy life. In his suicide note, he said that he was bored with this life and was "ready to transit to the next level".

In many cases, suicides come unexpectedly. It certainly did with my brother. We were absolutely blindsided by it. There was nothing we could have done to prevent it because he never revealed any problems and never reached out to us for help.

Smilin' Jack said...

Let's not sentimentalize and melodramatize suicide. It is the murder of a human being, a human being who is getting away with murder. It is not a closed system of a unified murderer and victim. There are living victims...

I'm sure she never thought of that. Too bad you weren't around to share your compassionate insights with her. Oh well, at least you can still judge her.

fivewheels said...

"Are you completely lacking in empathy?"

See, I like to think of myself as pretty empathetic. I try to put myself in others' shoes. So I think: What would lead a person to hold views like Althouse's about the victims of suicide? What kind of event could potentially lead someone in that direction? Hmmm.

So my reply to you is: Projection.

Roughcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikesixes said...

There's nothing wrong with identifying her first as Jagger's girlfriend. That's the thing that makes her suicide worthy of a prominent news story. As for being "successful", I think suicide contradicts that.

Michael said...

If the bridge jumpers that survived the plunge from the Golden Gate are representative they all regretted their decision to take their lives. All had made the very calculated decision to die and all had chosen a method almost guaranteed to work. By whatever twist of fate they survived. And they were glad they did.

ALP said...

I have no doubt that if Jagger was gay and it was a man ("boyfriend") that died...the press would still use Mick Jagger's name prominently in order to hook people into clicking on the article.

Nothing to see here. I don't see sexism, I see media outlets wanting to drive traffic to THEIR sites...using a name that is probably known in nearly every US household.

Feminists are crafting ever larger magnifying glasses to better see every tiny microaggression...probably down to the nano level at this point.

Big Mike said...

What every successful woman wants ...

I dunno. How successful could she have been if she went off and killed herself?

Amy said...

By this logic, could a person who survives a suicide attempt be charged with attempted murder? To my knowledge, that act is treated as a mental illness (or psychiatric event) and not a criminal one. Am curious about your take on this.

garage mahal said...

I don't consider suicide "cowardly". You don't know what's waiting for you when you pass over, and, many forms of suicide take real guts.

Ambrose said...

Of course it would not set feminism back to pretend - because she was a woman - that she was just as famous as Mick Jagger.

Uncle Frank said...

The headline is better than what I heard on a local radio station the other day, when she was identified as "Mick Jagger's designer girlfriend, L'Wren Scott."

Who knows, designer girlfriends could become a new marketing sensation.

cubanbob said...

Mick is a real lady killer. Several of his ex's tried killing themselves. Unfortunately the last one of his woman did.
Ladies stay away from him.

FullMoon said...


Blogger garage mahal said...

I don't consider suicide "cowardly". You don't know what's waiting for you when you pass over, and, many forms of suicide take real guts."

Even a blind hog gonna find a acorn once in awhile

Carol said...

Suicide is hard. When I was in Dallas years ago, I heard of a young guy who tried to shoot himself, effed up, and staggered around the house bleeding before he died. A gal here shot herself in the head and missed, lost an eye and looked pretty messed up afterward. All over some colleague.

Anyway, I think morally and legally you don't really belong wholly to yourself. Some others have claims on you.

Anthony said...

I am at least semi-attuned to pop culture I wouldn't have known her from Eve. So yeah, "Jagger's GF" is a handy identifier.

rhhardin said...

Let's not sentimentalize and melodramatize suicide.

That's the female "we."

Better

"Women should not sentimentalize and melodramatize suicide."

rhhardin said...

Suicide stands in for change in general, in lit crit.

rhhardin said...

Hope and suicide.

augustus said...

It is quite an assertion to say that she was successful, as she killed herself and was millions in debt. Based on what we know about her, by what measure was she a success?

cubanbob said...

Success or failure in the long run we are all dead so what does it really mean? Every creature has an overwhelming instinct to live so to want to kill yourself has to be something so strong as to overwhelm our most basic drive. While I can't understand this woman's reason for killing herself I do have sympathy for whatever psychic pain she was suffering that made her kill herself. There are many reasons people kill themselves from revenge fantasies that are probably driven by an underlying psychic pain to people that are suffering excruciating pain that can't be relived and apparently like this woman so mortified of being seen as failure that death seems preferable. All terribly sad. All I know is that none of us are getting out of this life alive so why hurry things?

St. George said...

"She's so cold....
I think her engine is permanently stalled.
She's so cold...like a tombstone.
She's so cold....like an ice cream cone.
When I touch her, my hand just froze.
She's so cold, but she's beautiful.
When you're old, nobody will know
You were a sweet, sweet beauty
But stone, stone cold."

She's So Cold
The Rolling Stones

n.n said...

cubanbob:

Exactly. An overwhelming instinct to live, to survive, from conception to death. Suicide is unique in that the perpetrator and victims are identical. Murder without cause or due process (e.g. abortion) is evidence of a psychosis. The person is without a sound mind and cannot be trusted with judgments of life and death, especially of other human lives.

tim in vermont said...

"by what measure was she a success?"

She managed to get people to lend her millions of dollars which she then parlayed into a few instagram followers. What more do you want?

Roughcoat said...


Depression--profound, brain chemistry-altering depression--is a disease with a biological component. Coping with depression not to mention curing it is not merely a question of toughing it out. You don't just snap out of it. It isn't a purely psychological condition or mental illness although it is inextricably linked with one's psychology and mental state. And it hurts. It hurts bad and it's a physical as well as a mental pain. Sometimes it hurts so bad that those who suffer from depression will do anything to end the pain even if it means ending their life. Althouse's arrogrant and judgmental remarks concerning a profoundly depressed person indicate an ignorance of the true and devastating nature of depression and an insensitivity to those afflicted with it. They are obnoxious and shameful.

I would add in the context of this discussion that even the Catholic church has changed its stance on suicide, adopting a more compassionate approach to those who feel compelled by circumstances manifestly beyond their control--and which are increasingly recognized as being biologically induced--to take their own lives. Check the Catechism if you doubt this.

Fernandinande said...

"...chiselled on her gravestone: 'Herein lies the girlfriend of a man more famous than her.'"

There is no gravestone with any such thing chiseled on it, so some feminist had to invent something to complain about.

Roughcoat said...

I should like to add, pace my comments above, that depression is not evidence of a character flaw nor is it caused by a weakness in character. Similarly, failure to cope effectively with depression is not indicative of weakness. Depression is a disease, and very shattering disease at that. Although strength of character can play plays a vital role in combating depression, it is hard to build such strength in one's psyche when that psyche has been shattered by the disease itself.

Ann Althouse said...

"Mick is only a victim, if he chooses to be."

So he can "choose" not to be a victim; he just needs to "choose" not to care.

Have you ever had someone you cared about die, felt deeply troubled, and been able to choose not to care so you could escape the pain?

I "choose" to believe your concept of choice is absurd.

Iapetus said...

Much ado about a nobody.

Ann Althouse said...

"Thinking of the pain that my suicide would cause others to feel was the only thing that kept me from committing it."

I am speaking to the living. The dead can't read. I am fighting against the current of modern thought that bathes the suicide in maudlin sympathy. The message needs to be heard: It is wrong. It is killing. The would-be suicide is NOT the only victim.

"At the same time, hearing remarks that could be construed as 'suicide shaming' did nothing but increase my own pain and shame to the point that I just wanted the pain to stop."

And yet you exist to write these words.

Shame isn't a pleasant feeling, but many unpleasant feelings that stop people from making mistakes. Fear is unpleasant, but it saves many lives.

Roughcoat said...

I am speaking to the living.

Oh, bullshit. You're shooting off your mouth about something that you don't understand.

Or maybe you do understand. In which case you're just being a jerk.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yes that is exactly what a severely depressed, suicidal person needs, to be told she is a bad person for contemplating suicide."

Not for contemplating it. I want the person contemplating to have this reason to decide against it: It is violent, murderous, and hostile, and you are not the sole victim, and even if you were, you the murderer should have mercy on you the victim.

Anyone who fails to resist is not here to read that.

Ann Althouse said...

"By this logic, could a person who survives a suicide attempt be charged with attempted murder? To my knowledge, that act is treated as a mental illness (or psychiatric event) and not a criminal one. Am curious about your take on this."

What percent of convicted murderers in prison do you think are mentally ill?

Do you want to discuss treatment of the mentally ill? Are we fair in how we treat the mentally ill and the way those who leave dead (or badly injured) victims and do not themselves die end up in prison?

Remember how we reacted to the Hinckley verdict.

Ann Althouse said...

People used to believe that suicide would take them to hell. There's a deterrent!

Maybe some people still believe that, but they politely keep their mouths shut about it.

Roughcoat said...


The brain of the profoundly clinically depressed person is warped and quite literally physically damaged by a toxic combination of bad chemistry and bad psychology. Rational appeals to resist depression and eschew suicide because suicide is a violent and murderous and hostile act frequently have little effect on the suicidal person's decision-making process, and for reasons that should be obvious. The suicidal person is not in a right state of mind is consequently hard-pressed to think rationally about their courses of action. They only want the pain to stop. In such circumstances taking one's own life might seem the most merciful act one can perform on one's own behalf.

harrogate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roughcoat said...

People used to believe that suicide would take them to hell.

As I wrote above, the Catholic Church no longer holds this view. Read the Catechsim.

harrogate said...

I often wonder at your sustained campaign to frame the way we perceive and respond to suicide. Your call to "not sentimentalize and meladramatize suicide," in all its cold positivism, seems like the kind of ideology we'd see on billboards across the urban sprawl, in a Sci Fi movie.

I also find myself marvelling sometimes, that we are not witnessing (at least I don't *think* we are witnessing) a dramatic spike in the suicide rate, in our present era. Maybe Faulkner was right to observe that (to paraphrase) one of the most remarkable things about human beings is what they are capable of bearing.

Michael said...

Harrogate. You see these times as unbearable? Worse than whe Faulkner made his comment? So progressives aside, there is no progress?

Revenant said...

Calling suicide "self-murder" is like calling ATM withdrawls "self-robbery" or masturbation "self-rape".

Roughcoat said...

Apropos of Faulker’s observation, I offer this by Nadezhda Mandelstam:

“In war, in the camps and during periods of terror, people think much less about death (let alone suicide) than during normal periods of the living of their mortal lives. Whenever at some point on earth mortal terror and the pressure of utterly unsoluble problems are present in a particularly intense form, general questions about the nature of being recede into the background. In a strange way, despite the horror of it, this also gives a richness to our lives. Who knows what happiness is? Perhaps it is better to talk in the more concrete terms of the fullness or intensity of existence, and in this sense there may have been something more deeply satisfying in our desperate clinging to life than in what people generally strive for.”

She also observed, with reference to the Gulag, that “human beings are like weeds, they take some killing. Now, if you treated horses like this, they=d be dead in a couple of days.”

Her husband, the great Russian poet and essayist Ossip Mandelstam, died in 1938 in a Gulag camp in Siberia, one of countless victims of Stalin’s terror.

Michael said...

Revenant


Calling suicide "self-murder" is like calling ATM withdrawls "self-robbery" or masturbation "self-rape".

No. Think. These are not even remotely the same.

Smilin' Jack said...

It is violent, murderous, and hostile

It may or may not be. The one thing it is for sure, is none of your business.

m stone said...

I agree with Jack above.

Suicides often choose their death as a message to their "loved" ones. The bloody violent ones are retinally memorized and, of course, must be cleaned up (even though the loved one rarely does it).

Violent actions in life have similar lasting impact on survivors. Better to concentrate on their solutions.

heyboom said...

Have you ever had someone you cared about die, felt deeply troubled, and been able to choose not to care so you could escape the pain?

I can assure that all in our family cared deeply about my brother, but what good does it do to let our lives deteriorate to misery over it? There's a difference between not caring and being strong enough to carry on in the face of tragedy.

I'm not saying we didn't grieve because we did and still do, but we choose to be grateful for the times we did have together. And boy do we laugh at the good times!

harrogate said...

Michael, obviously by invoking the Faulkner quote I am saying that the times are in fact bearable. I'm just sometimes surprised by that fact is all. Not that there haven't been worse times or that there won't be times worse than these in the future. But yeah, I see a lot of cause for despair around the world and even in privileged nations such as ours there is such cause. No matter the case, ideoendent of the rabbit hole errand of comparing "times of despair," I think it a caricature of shallow positivism to speak of suicide in the way that Althouse repeatedly addresses the issue. She could use a little more Goth and a helluva lot more humility .

PianoLessons said...

Anne - I actually love your definition of suicide as a violent murder that leaves living victims.

It is the most selfish act imaginable and I have great empathy for those who go down that particular rabbit hole of life. So freaking sad for all.

Patrick said...

Let's not sentimentalize and melodramatize suicide. It is the murder of a human being, a human being who is getting away with murder.

Are you completely lacking in empathy?


It is possible, isn't it, to feel sorry that someone is so depressed or sad, but still believe that their manner of dealing with it is terrible and selfish, leaving behind more pain for the suicide's other victims.

t-man said...

Yes, the person who commits suicide is selfish. How dare he not live with crushing despair to save you from feeling bad.

RecChief said...

"People used to believe that suicide would take them to hell."

Some of us practicing Christians still believe that.

J Lee said...

The economics of this, and L'Wren's mindset is the truly odd part. Jagger attended the London School of Economics before deciding on his alternate career, and has always bee known as the Stones' financial expert, in terms of getting the most $$$ value for the brand -- you'd think if you were his girlfriend and were $6 million in debt, you could at least seek out his advice if not directly ask for a loan.

Choosing suicide over that is a lot of pride not to swallow, as if the fact that Scott's businesses wasn't going to make it on its own was something too much to take, to the point of preferring death over a financial lifeline (as for the coverage, L'Wren's clothing design efforts were at the margins of public consciousness -- worn by celebs, but certainly not a big enough brand name to attract regular customers to stores. She may have been in the top 1 percent of vertically gifted females, but in terms of her career work, it just wasn't successful enough on a wide scale to make her more famous for than than for being Mick Jagger's girlfriend).

EMD said...

or masturbation "self-rape".

Jesus, man, don't give the feminists any ideas!

n.n said...

Robbery is an act of involuntary exploitation, therefore "self-robbery" is incongruous, other than through poor judgment. Masturbation is an act of consensual sex, therefore "self-rape" is incongruous, other than through masochism. Murder is an unnatural act which prematurely terminates human evolution, therefore suicide is murder, irrespective that the perpetrator and victim coincide.

As for describing suicide as murder, which it factually is, the purpose is not to shame, but to properly characterize an action, and motivate a psychotic or imbalanced individual to seek external help in order to restore harmony with yourself, with others, and with your environment generally.

Ann Althouse said...

"As I wrote above, the Catholic Church no longer holds this view. Read the Catechsim."

Why? I said "used to."

n.n said...

Society's interest in suicide and other acts of murder, including abortion, is to identify and address not isolated but common causes of psychosis. Its interest to address isolated cases is to preserve the intrinsic value of its members, which may be impossible when the individual is determined, and will not be persuaded from their choice.

Qwerty Smith said...

Larry Fortensky is supposed to have said that he didn't want to be known as "Mr. Elizabeth Taylor." If he had asphyxiated himself last week, do you suppose that the obituaries would have focused on his construction career?

Mark said...

People used to believe that suicide would take them to hell. There's a deterrent!
Maybe some people still believe that, but they politely keep their mouths shut about it.

As I wrote above, the Catholic Church no longer holds this view.


I really wish that people would not be so misleading and reckless when it comes to asserting what the Church teaches.

First, as Althouse first says -- yes, the prospect that you will end up in a much, much, much worse place is a deterrent to the mortal sin of suicide (from the Latin which does mean self-murder, as recognized at common law).

Moreover, suicide is still and always has been a mortal sin, that is a sin which is mortal, i.e. a sin that results in eternal death ("hell"), not merely worldly death, because it is a rejection of the One who is Life itself, both in the act of killing (contrary to the commandment of "thou shall not kill") and since it usually results in death happening before one can repent, in the rejection of God's mercy, although there may arguably be some mitigating factors if the person is so mentally ill as to have lost the use of free will.

As authoritatively explained by Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae --

66. Suicide is always as morally objectionable as murder. The Church's tradition has always rejected it as a gravely evil choice. Even though a certain psychological, cultural and social conditioning may induce a person to carry out an action which so radically contradicts the innate inclination to life, thus lessening or removing subjective responsibility, suicide, when viewed objectively, is a gravely immoral act. In fact, it involves the rejection of love of self and the renunciation of the obligation of justice and charity towards one's neighbour, towards the communities to which one belongs, and towards society as a whole. In its deepest reality, suicide represents a rejection of God's absolute sovereignty over life and death, as proclaimed in the prayer of the ancient sage of Israel: "You have power over life and death; you lead men down to the gates of Hades and back again" (Wis 16:13; cf. Tob 13:2).

The Catechism (numbers 2280-83) are consistent with this.

By asserting here the Church no longer speaks out against the great evil that is suicide, you are doing no one any favors but might in fact remove that much needed deterrent, which might be enough for someone to take that step.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

A sense of closeness in marriage has a protective effect against depression or suicide. Financially she had about $6 million in exposed debt. He has more than $ 300 million. It seems that Mr. Jagger should have been able to work something out for her if she were his friend.

Jamie McArdle said...

I don't want to demonize people in so much despair that they consider suicide a good option. And I do believe that an adult of sound mind has a right, such as it is, to take his own life. But:

As with every other right, if you're going to avail yourself of it, you must also accept the consequences of it. One of those consequences ought to be acceptance of the fact that you have no accompanying right to be seen in a positive light once you're gone, and that (in applicable cases) the person or people whom you saw as precipitating your suicide might be seen as your victim.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

I am speaking to the living. The dead can't read. I am fighting against the current of modern thought that bathes the suicide in maudlin sympathy. The message needs to be heard: It is wrong. It is killing. The would-be suicide is NOT the only victim.

And that pretty sounds good, as far as it goes. But it is only the Prosecution's side, as it were. Let's hear from the Defense.

Your view is Leftist and collectivist. It takes a village to decide if one can end one's own life.

Of all the things in the cosmos that a person should have sole and complete power over, it is whether to continue one's own life. Already, we weren't asked if we wanted to be born. Now we have to ask to be able to die? Who's life is it then?

It's the ultimate control over one's body that is at stake - a right to choose.

"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them."

Revenant said...

Calling suicide "self-murder" is like calling ATM withdrawls "self-robbery" or masturbation "self-rape".

No. Think. These are not even remotely the same.

No, they're quite similar. Your life is yours, to do with as you please, just like your money and your body are.

jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:
I am speaking to the living. The dead can't read. I am fighting against the current of modern thought that bathes the suicide in maudlin sympathy. The message needs to be heard: It is wrong. It is killing. The would-be suicide is NOT the only victim.

That gets to the whole idea of harm. People who say that all is permissible so long as it's consensual and no one is harmed have a very narrow definition of harm. And even if the behavior was totally consensual on her part and no one what physically harmed people were harmed by the action. And so, how are people determining harm when they say that?
This is not to say that everything that causes harm should be illegal. But rather, just because you don't see the harm doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Revenant said...

suicide (from the Latin which does mean self-murder

The Latin means "self-killing", not "self-murder".

jr565 said...

Murder also means unlawful killing. Technically it is illegal but if you're the one doing the killing of yourself can't you say that you're in the right doing it. Insurance companies won't pay out, but you're the ultimate judge of your own actions and you're paying the consequences if your actions.

jr565 said...

So, not sure if I would use the word "murder" to describe a suicide.

n.n said...

jr565:

No. As a matter of tradition, which is recognized by our law, murder is a crime committed against both the individual and society. While an individual can choose to end their life, they do not have a right to do so.

The unalienable rights recognized by our society are life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. There is no declared or recognized right to commit murder without cause (e.g. self-defense) or due process (e.g. capital punishment).

It is worth noting that this conception of murder excludes natural causes, and does not require artificial mitigation, which is moderated in cases of diminished capacity (e.g. unsound mind, loss of consciousness).

Incidentally, this is why the "right" to abortion hinges on dehumanizing the victim (e.g. clump of cells), and motivated a public campaign to reject intrinsic value through corruption and misrepresentation of an evolutionary process (e.g. life).

jr565 said...

n.n. Under law if agree that you don't have the right. I was talking about your own self justification. You don't think you're killing yourself unlWfully. You think your reasons are valid.
The law doesn't agree and certainly won't sanction you offing yourself. But that doesn't make it murder. If it were kervorkian and he assisted in your suicide that would be murder. But if you do it to yourself you just killed yourself.
Can you commit a crime against yourself?

Kirk Parker said...

jr565,

" Insurance companies won't pay out,"

Actually they will, and do. Certainly every policy I've ever seen (but caution--IINAIA!) has had a time-based exclusion of 2 or more years, but that's it.

n.n said...

jr565:

Kevorkian was a contractor, similar to abortionists, who commit murder for their clients, in order to dissociate them from the consequences and responsibilities of their action.

Your arguments about the law are interesting only in that they expose their inconsistency. Homicide, suicide, abortion, etc. are all forms of murder. They are conscious actions to terminate a human life. That the perpetrator and victim coincide is an oddity which is irrelevant to characterization of the action.

While murder/suicide is a natural right, it is not a right recognized by our society, or codified in our law. You can certainly let evolution follow its course to conclude with a natural death. You can choose to abstain from mitigating action; but, society does not sanction the willful termination of human life... Well, other than the murder/abortion of a human life before it has a voice and arms to protest its termination.

I suggest that murder/suicide must not be normalized, nor can it be tolerated, and should, in fact, be rejected. However, unlike murder/abortion, the natural right of every human being to control their destiny is a de facto standard. Society's proper place is not in active policing functions, but to discourage murder/suicide, provide counseling when requested, and active interventions when an individual lacks a sound mind or is otherwise incapacitated.

Murder/homicide, murder/abortion, murder/suicide, etc. are crimes against the individual and society. They must not be normalized; they cannot not be tolerated; they should be rejected. The only question is whether society is proactive or reactive to these violations.

Murder/suicide is a de facto right, and may not be preventable. Murder/abortion is a de facto right, and may not be preventable. Murder/homicide is a de facto right, and may not be preventable. However, of these three examples, only a successful murder/suicide cannot be sanctioned ex post facto; murder/abortion, by its nature (e.g. back alley), may escape public scrutiny; and murder/homicide may remain unresolved.

Anyway, the characterization of suicide as murder (i.e. artificial termination of human life) should not be controversial. The debate revolves around how society should respond, proactively and reactively, to this behavior. Society, as an entity, and its members, as individuals, have an interest in the general Welfare of society and its members.

Todd said...

Murder/suicide is a de facto right, and may not be preventable. Murder/abortion is a de facto right, and may not be preventable. Murder/homicide is a de facto right, and may not be preventable.

I agree with the "may not be preventable" part but calling all three of these "de facto rights", I don't think is supportable. You have no right de facto or otherwise to murder another person. The act of murder deprives that other of all of their rights to include the right to life. Your rights end where mine begin. Of the three, the "right" to self termination may be the one that may have the most moral standing. You are your own person and "your body, your rules" likely apply the most strongly. Abortion (I believe) much less so as you are either terminating "a clump of cells" or a baby that at some point has its own "right to self", depending on your own judgment. Some will equate abortion to murder as you are depriving another human life of its right to life. Murder of a born person is also not defensible for the same reason as abortion (may be depending on your convictions), denial of right to self. Depending on the circumstances murder may be justified in which case it is not murder, still killing but not murder.