Sunday, February 05, 2012

Don Cornelius: A World Renown Soul Icon who became a victim of “Sadness"

Don Cornelius: A World Renown Soul Icon who became a victim of “Sadness"
I used the word sadness because Don’s son, Tony Cornelius, used the word ‘sad’ on The Tom Joyner Morning this past Friday morning. When asked by Tom Joyner if his father was depressed about anything, Tony Cornelius said, “My father was not depressed, he was just sad.” Tony went on to say, “My father was hurting from frequent headaches. He survived a brain surgery in 1982 as a result of a brain aneurism.” Tony also said that he father was a very private man. He said that if there was anything ever wrong with his father, the family would not know right away because his father was not the kind of man who talked about things that were going in his life.

Maybe Tony Cornelius used the word ‘sad’ to describe his father’s mood because the word ‘depressed’ carries with it a stigma of being labeled mentally ill or less than being manly. Or maybe his son does not know the symptoms of depression. Well, as a survivor of chronic depression, this whole scenario up the eventual suicide has depression written all over it. You see. One can have money, fame, and even a loving family and still get depressed. According to the latest statistics 92% of Black men with depression DO NOT seek therapy or counseling. Also, black men have surpassed black women and other races in suicide. I battled depression for three years straight (1996-1999). It took me almost killing myself in an automobile accident to finally get much needed help for my issues. Yes. I was drunk behind the wheel. Yes. For three years I medicated my “sadness” with alcohol. After, having gone to counseling, I was given a new lease on my life. Today, I don’t medicate any problems I may have with alcohol. I do have my melancholy moments or sad days, but nothing that calling a friend, going out on a date, or just picking up the phone and calling my mother just to say hello, won’t cure.

Since 2000, I have put my social work/therapeutic focus on the health and mental health of Black men and boys. I am working to do part in showing Black boys and Black men that WE TOO, ROCK. I am encouraging Black men to look at counseling and as an option and not a curse word. I want black men to become friends again and not be afraid to call each for support when we are feeling ‘sad.’ I want us to bond intellectually as well as athletically. I want us to realize that our female counterparts are outliving us because they talk to each other. They support each other in good and bad times. They share health tips. They uplift each other. As Black men, we can learn a thing or two from a Black woman’s book/guide on how to survive and remain emotionally and mentally healthy during unsure and trying times.

I felt a sense of loss at the news of Don Cornelius’s death and was really saddened that the cause of death was suicide. I feel really sad for his family because they have been left with so many questions of why. According to Tony, the answers to the why questions left with his father on that tragic Wednesday morning at 4:00am. Suicide becomes ‘the answer’ when we disallow other survival options to enter into our minds. When a depressed or sad person is heading down the path of suicide, doors are being closed mentally along the way. Meaning, as the depressed person becomes more and more depressed, he or she does not see many options or brighter days. Therefore, what’s the use in trying to solve a problem that cannot be fixed? This is when isolation becomes more and more prevalent. A lot of times when the family or friends finally decide to become more aggressive in reaching the depressed person or loved on, it is too late.
Don Cornelius, thank you so much for soul train. Thank you so much for your positive image. Thank you so much for showing the world that Black people are indeed a SOULful force to be reckoned with on this planet. I know wherever you are; it is definitely a stone gas! I am Rico Rivers and I am truly wishing you, Don Cornelius, Love, Peace and SOOOOUUUULLLLL!!!

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