What is it in the lives of those we celebrate, emulate, and elevate in society that seems to drive them to despair? In some cases, the celebrities we admire see no alternative for ending the secret pain in their lives besides killing themselves. Ray Comfort, in his newest book The Final Curtain: Fame, Fortune, and Futile Lives, tackles the epidemic of celebrities taking their own lives.
Comfort breaks the book down into chapters, and a celebrity is discussed in each chapter. Not every celebrity mentioned has committed suicide (nor is there any evidence they’ve thought about it), but many of the chapters discuss the depression and fear that each entertainer has struggled with throughout their life. In each celebrity, Comfort draws a line that he believes connects all of these celebrities, regardless of the sphere they operate in, and gives an explanation as to why those who seem to have it all feel the most empty.
Working to emphasize his point is that depression has no known cause. There are a variety of psychological, biological and environmental factors that can contribute to its development. In a chapter on veteran suicide, Comfort deals with the training soldiers go through to help overcome the fear of death, but what to do with that training once the threat of death is gone? The fear is still there. It seems irrational. “And so, thanks to modern psychiatry,” Comfort states, “he begins to believe that he’s mentally imbalanced.”
The flipside of the book, titled From the Ledge: A Conversation with Comfort, is a fictional account of trying to talk someone from jumping off a bridge to their death. While it is a fictionalized account, there are very good and straightforward lessons to be gleaned; both for someone who may be struggling with suicide and depression, and how to talk to someone who finds themselves in a darkness they believe to be inescapable.
Comfort’s effort comes off as a bit preachy at times, and you may be distracted by his Way of the Master approach to apologetics, especially if it’s not your thing (and it’s not mine). However, Comfort’s overall point that death is such anathema to the human race that it can drive us to dark places is certainly worth considering. Perhaps, in quiet moments, we may realize that it is the idea that one day, our lives as we know them will end, that truly terrifies us. For Christians, there is hope that death is not final, that eternity is written on the human heart, and that faith in Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of that book.