Today, Shinee’s Kim Jonghyun is to be laid to rest with Shinee’s other members as chief mourners.
It’s been days since Jonghyun tragically ended his life but there’s still a pang that is lingering within me. I haven’t heard of him nor do I personally know him but upon hearing of his fate, it feels like something was ripped inside of me. I am not a K-Pop fan and I haven’t even heard of Shinee (his group) until Minho appeared in The Return of Superman. But when I read the news last Monday, a gaping hole unexpectedly opened up within me. Initial news were sketchy but as details came pouring in, one thing became sure, he was suffering from a deep case of depression.
The following day, his final letter spread over different media outlets. I read it and I am even further pained. Although he was just another idol, his letter showed a different side of him that he doesn’t usually let others see. He showed the world that he is but a normal human being. He, and his group, did an amazing job inspiring the world but unfortunately his greatness was frowned upon. He didn’t even crave for the attention or the fame. He loves his craft and his job but that didn’t exempt him from wanting validation for the great job that he was doing.
Reading his final letter made me want to cry, for him, and for every victim of that monstrosity we call depression. His letter broke me into two because his sentiments, and his struggles are profound and universal. His every word resonated with pain and sadness that I can’t help but hold onto my chest because of the heaviness that began weighing down on me.
His struggles echo some of the tiny voices that are barely ever heard in the deep crevasse that we refer to as life. These tiny voices, often than not, get drowned in the noise of the crowd. They end up alone and they’ve got no one to blame for their weaknesses but themselves.
Browsing through Instagram and Twitter, I saw some his videos. He was so alive and filled with full of zest. You can hear passion from every note that comes from his mouth. But even as his body grooves to the syncopating music, one can’t help but notice his eyes. There was something in there that reflected pain and sadness. It was screaming for help. Unfortunately everyone barely noticed it and even the experts just downplayed his pleas. Unfortunately, amidst the development we’ve experienced over the years, mental illnesses, including depression, are viewed as a stigma, an anathema.
Mental illnesses shouldn’t be taken too lightly. Even history says so. Vincent Van Gogh, one of the greatest artists, suffered from bipolar disorder. He ended up taking his own life. Depression, just like the other mental illnesses, is a beast. A lot suffers from it. It is a silent killer but those suffering from it, like Jonghyun, rarely ever scream for help. Even if they won’t admit it, they’re conscious and afraid of how they’re going to be viewed. How are they even going to let everyone understand what they themselves cannot? Others have no idea how difficult it is to explain something that is going on your mind.
I am not a Shawol. I am not a member of any fandom. I am just a simple but flawed guy who is broken because another one lost his battle. But still, I wanted to know you Kim Jonghyun. I wanted to wipe your tears. I wanted to listen to your story. I wanted to comfort you in your darkest times. I wanted to hug you and reassure you that everything is going to be okay. And had fate permitted it, I would have.
But most importantly, I would have told you that you not only did well, you did great! But that is all for naught now because you have prematurely become an angel.
All over the world, tears are flowing because another great influencer has passed away. Him committing suicide is another way to look at it. But the truth is he was murdered, murdered by that feared but unspoken monster. Now, he doesn’t have to suffer. He is now part of those wonderful constellations that are shining beautifully in the darkness.
I may have not known you Jonghyun but I know, understand and feel your story. You story is universal but is rarely heard. Your tiny voice was drowned in the cacophony of the crowd. You know what, I have to admire you for being too strong for too long. You fought your battles on your own. You tried to cling on to that tiny sliver of hope with every bit of energy you have. You tried to hang on a very tiny thread until the very end. But I’m sorry it is all too late.
Goodbye for now Jonghyun. Goodbye idol. Ultimately this isn’t really a goodbye because all your great deeds will remain with the hearts of those you’ve helped through your music. Your greatest memories will be cherished and treasured by those who love and know you. I am but an observer, but let me reiterate, JONGHYUN YOU DID GREAT!
You may rest in peace now idol. Please watch over those Shawols who look up to you. Guide your friends, and especially Minho, Key, Onew and Taemin. Look after your family now. I know you’re smiling peacefully up there in heaven. And I know in my heart of hearts that you are no longer alone.
To those who are also under going the very same dilemma, let me reassure you, you are also doing well. No, you are doing GREAT!
To the ones reading this, if you feel like someone you know is suffering from depression, hug them. Just listen to their stories and tell them that it is going to be fine. Because that is what they need, someone who will listen. In this way, we can all help beat the stigma.