Monday, March 1, 2010

Why We Should Leave the Osmonds Alone

Marie Osmond's 18 year old son died this weekend.  He apparently jumped from an apartment building in downtown Los Angeles, where he attended school.  He left a suicide note behind.  Various media reports indicate that he had been in rehab in the past, that he suffered from depression, and that his mother thought he was doing better before his death.  The autopsy was "inconclusive" pending toxicology results.  Marie Osmond is described as devastated.

People are asking all sorts of questions about this situation.  Why did he do it?  Did he tell anyone he was going to, and if so who and what did they do?  Was he intoxicated?  Were there warning signs?  What was in the suicide note? I have one simple answer to all of these questions:  None of your business.  I don't mean to be rude, but why on earth do we imagine we are entitled to this information?

When someone kills themselves, they always leave behind unanswered questions.  These are very difficult for family and friends, who always wonder what they missed or what they could have done differently.  Sometimes there are answers in the form of background information or the contents of a note, and sometimes not.  When there is information, the family often chooses to keep it private.  If you've ever worked with family or friends of someone who has killed themselves, you know that the themes all revolve around "woulda, coulda, shoulda."

The questions that the public is asking about Marie Osmond's son right now are questions I would not presume to ask my best friend if (God forbid) a family member completed a suicide.  If the family wants people to know, they will tell us.  Otherwise, all we are doing is drawing the family's attention repeatedly to the most painful aspects of this death -- the nagging questions of what could have been done differently and whether this could have been prevented.  We are truly rubbing salt in what has to be a large and open wound.

Marie Osmond is a public figure.  As such, some would argue that she gives up some measure of privacy.  Her son, however, was not a public figure.  You probably don't even know his name, or at least you didn't before this weekend.  He never agreed to surrender his privacy, and his mother didn't surrender it on his behalf.  Is this a news story?  Sure.  It's worth a brief notice that this happened, and fans can express their condolences.  Demanding additional information, however, isn't just nosy -- it's mean.


Meet the Quarterback

My Photo
Naomi Zikmund-Fisher
is a clinical social worker, former school Principal and a Crisis Consultant for schools and community organizations. You can learn more about her at
View my complete profile

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Quarterback for Kindle