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What We Can Learn From Whitney Houston's Death

While tragic, Whitney Houston's death can serve as a life lesson for all of us.

Whitney Houston's death last week came as no surprise to many people. Her erratic behavior in recent years, punctuated by drug abuse, were cries for help that, as far as I can see, went unheeded.

The media, as expected, had a field day with the tragic news. This is the sacrifice celebrities have to deal with, especially at death. Sensationalistic stories of the once perfect, all-American girl with the voice of a songbird crashing down to earth started to appear: Her embarrassing reality TV stint with Bobby Brown. Her crazy behavior at a Prince concert. Reminders of her failed comebacks in recent years.  Fans walking out of her concerts demanding refunds. It is such a shame to see a human being with Whitney's talent lose all her decency and pretty much end up on a sidewalk, drawing pity, rejection, and ridicule from the public.

I read some of the news on Whitney Houston's passing, but stopped after a few. I wanted to remember her as that great singer on The Bodyguard soundtrack, and that nice voice on those catchy, mid-late 80s albums. Strangely, I had a premonition of her death just two days before, in a dream. It was a deja-vu moment when I heard the news. But I wasn't surprised.

There is something in this story that is more tragic than Whitney's death. It's something that most people overlook: Where the heck were her friends and family when she first showed signs of trouble? Where was her support group?  Where were those people who were supposed to watch her back?  ou know, FRIENDS.  I mean, true friends. The ones who yell at you, shake you, tackle you with no regard for your feelings when they see you are in danger because they care about you so much they don't stop to think of the consequences.  

I just wonder if those individuals did enough to save this poor woman. Any mature adult can see that Whitney's behavior during the last years of her life were cries for help. She just couldn't say it directly. Tragically, it seems that her friends simply watched her die.

So let this be a lesson for all of us. If you see a loved one showing a pattern of detatchment, or consistently doing things as though she/he didn't care about the consequences, even while laughing and seemingly enjoying him/herself, step in and take action.  If you saw a good friend about to walk onto the 680 freeway, I'm sure you would rush to intercept her. So when you see signs of trouble, do the same thing and step in and intercept. Find out what's going on, and do what you can to help your friend, because you may be her only hope.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Janice P Ellis February 19, 2012 at 01:56 AM
While I agree with much of your sentiments, Dan, ultimately, the ball fell in Whitney's court. Namely, SHE had to be willing to ACCEPT the help that was most surely offered to her. Unfortunately, I believe her demons were just too much to overcome. That, or by the time she had the will and strength to try to overcome them, too much damage had been done. I watched her funeral service online today, and wept and cried for the loss of such a breathtakingly beautiful woman, who had the voice of an angel. It's been heartbreaking to watch her go from what she was at the height of her fame, to what she was at the end. She will be missed. I pray that she now has the peace she wasn't able to find in this life.
Dan Perez February 19, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Hi Janice, I realize this. The thing that I contemplate about her death is just how hard did her friends try to intervene. This woman needed a Marine drill sergeant type intervention, not just a few verbal warnings. To date, I haven't seen this side of the story addressed; maybe it will be in a future 60 Minutes segment. Although technically her death was not a suicide, I believe that, for all intents and purposes, it was a suicide. For those who have a friend that is going down that dangerous path, there is a resource right here in our own back yard. It is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at (925) 804-6494. They have a Yellow Pages listing of 2105 N Donovan Way, San Ramon, CA 94582. They are a non-profit involved in the research, education, treatment and prevention of suicide. The hotline is (800) 273- TALK (8255).
Janice P Ellis February 19, 2012 at 07:34 PM
From everything I have read, Dan, a lot of people very close to Whitney tried very hard for many years to help her. But, you can't shove help like this down someone's throat. The person has to really want it for themselves. I've also read that Whitney was a very stubborn person and didn't like to be forced to do anything - which most likely resulted from her being molded into something she felt she wasn't during particularly her early music career by Clive Davis, in exchange for fame. Even a Marine drill sergeant type cannot get through to someone who doesn't want the help - or who doesn't feel they're strong enough to face a particular demon. The very sad thing about Whitney is, once she got to the place where she was willing to listen and to where she felt strong enough to face her demons, too much damage had been done.
kristina laf February 19, 2012 at 10:49 PM
i have demons and i try hard to quit drinking. only person that seems to care is my boyfriend. i feel alone sometimes and it gets unbearable so then i drink again. life is hard
Dan Perez February 20, 2012 at 07:02 AM
Kristina I hope you find the source that will eventually lift you out of this terrible cycle you describe. Being around people is a good start.
Dan Perez February 20, 2012 at 07:04 AM
One last thing I forgot to mention in my original post is how ironic that Whitney's Godmother, Dionne Warwick, had a hit called "That's What Friends Are For."
Janice P Ellis February 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I'm so sorry you're going through this, Kristina. But, know that you're not alone. Life IS hard and I think most of us feel alone and that very few people care about us at different points in our lives. I know I've felt that way. I just want to share with you that, while you may feel like your boyfriend is the only person who seems to care about you, please stay open to the fact that you might be wrong about that. Sometimes the people in our lives care about us, but, for whatever reason, don't know how to let us know that. And, Dan, that's a pretty harsh comment about Dionne Warwick as it relates to Whitney. I believe Whitney was deeply loved by the people closest to her in her life, including Dionne Warwick - who was Whitney's cousin, by the way, not her Godmother. I believe many people who loved Whitney tried for many, many years to save her from destroying herself. Just because they were not successful in doing so doesn't mean they didn't care, nor that they didn't try. Addictions can have such a strong hold on someone's life that sometimes not even love can penetrate them. That's one of the things that makes addictions so very tragic and deadly.
Kathy Dillingham February 20, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Janice, You are right. I met a member of Whitney's family a few years ago. They are very private and so I will only say that they did try to intervene and loved her very much.
Dan Perez February 22, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Janice, thanks for the comment. I was simply stating how ironic (and sad) that such a song would be associated to Whitney. Yes, addictions are serious and difficult to break. However, there are many examples of people who successfully overcame their addictions, giving hope and encouragement to those who are in trouble. I'm not certain of what the magic formula is, but support, inner strength, and a bit of luck are surely involved. A very good friend/ guardian angel type of person would be a huge help, but I know that not everyone is fortunate to have such a person in his/her life.
Janice P Ellis February 24, 2012 at 12:11 AM
I agree, Dan - it IS pretty ironic, isn't it? I certainly didn't know Whitney personally, but, I can remember how stunningly beautiful I thought she was, particularly during her 20's and 30's. When you combine her beauty with that powerhouse of a voice, it's just very sad to have watched such a dynamic woman slowly destroy herself over the years. I remember when she sang the Star Spangled Banner at the 1991 Super Bowl. Who could have ever dreamed that, just over 20 years later, she would be gone.

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