Jeremy Wagner's Grotesque Blessings #4
by: Jeremy Wagner
Hey all. I know it's been awhile since I contributed anything to my "Grotesque Blessings" column, and I thank you and the staff at Chronicles of Chaos for their patience.

I've had a whirlwind of traveling and personal matters to deal. Mostly, the death of my dear friend and bandmate, Joe Ptacek, sidetracked my schedule and motivation for awhile.

With that, I'm back and this recent loss of Joe has inspired me to write about his death and suicide...

Suicide -- it's not the way anyone should have to leave this world. Outside of terminal illness, I think most normal people would agree that suicide is no answer, especially if one is a healthy, functioning individual with friends and family who love him or her. That said -- and I'm not a psychologist -- some people suffer from depression and suffer personal demons that tear apart one's positive attitude and outlook on life. Things seem so dark and bleak and unhappy, they want to end it all. It's painful and unhealthy and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

I've met a few people in my life who've gone and killed themselves. One guy was drunk and high and killed himself more for drama than depression, I think. The same could also be said about another acquaintance. Those instances, though tragic, really didn't faze me, as I didn't have a real meaningful connection with them. Not that I'm callous; it was just that I found them to be tragic and pretty stupid at the same time. It wasn't until I lost someone really close to me that the impact and weight of suicide really made me take notice to the disturbing nature of this act.

Joe Ptacek: I first met him when we were just teenagers with big dreams in high-school. He was a close and dear friend, he was a legendary death metal vocalist (the self-proclaimed "esophagus"), and he was a biker and fisherman among many things. The last thing I ever thought he'd be is a victim of his own hand. Joe had much to live for; he had a wonderful and loving girlfriend, he had his own house and a cat named Puss-Puss, he had lots of friends, and he was healthy and strong and ready to get back out and make Broken Hope a reality. The outpouring of condolences and tributes from fans and friends worldwide has truly warmed the hearts of Joe's close friends and his family. I can tell you, it really opened his parents' eyes to see some of the kind words from folks on all points of the globe.

I've been told that on the day Joe died, there was nothing strange in his behavior or in anything he did. His girlfriend told me Joe was sober that day, he in fact wasn't on any medication or on any other drugs. Moreover, they spent a day together laughing and jamming on music, and went out and bought a week's worth of groceries. Later, at his house, Joe and his girlfriend went down to the basement where he had a pool table. From what I know, Joe and his girlfriend stood next to the pool table and he pulled out a handgun, put it to his head, and killed himself while his girlfriend watched from only one foot away.

I can't imagine what it's going to take for Joe's girlfriend to ever get past this -- to see your true love die such a violent and self-inflicted death right in front of your face is an unimaginable horror I hate to even think about.

The fact that Joe didn't display any signs of depression, or leave a note, or do anything at all to hint that he would perform such a thing is even more troubling. It's disconcerting because it makes no sense and it was so unexpected and final and vicious... everyone I know who was close to Joe didn't see this coming, and it's 100% unexplainable. I asked if it was at accidental and was told that it was not. Joe had the gun, loaded, and ready to go.

An eerily similar gun-death happened nearly 32 years ago to the date of Joe's death: on January 23, 1978, guitarist / singer / group co-founder Terry Kath, of the band Chicago, died of an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound.

These tragedies seem to turn into glamorous things when they happen to individuals of some artist nature -- Kurt Cobain, Hunter S. Thompson, Wendy O. Williams, Virginia Woolf, etc. That said, there's nothing glamorous about suicide. It leaves a painful void for those close to the individuals who do themselves in and it seems rather senseless to do, especially relevant when someone with artistic gifts does this and prematurely end their lives. It always leaves the questions of, Why? or What could have been?

This edition of my "Grotesque Blessings" isn't meant to be a bummer. It's a rant after all, and I'm ranting here, trying to instill words that will make you think. Moreover, I hope what I've written here will make you appreciate your life and make you happy to be alive. I can truly say, I am extremely happy to be alive and value my mortality every day.

Catch ya next month... as always, thanks for reading!

(article submitted 18/4/2010)

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