Can we speak of the unspeakable?
Anyone who has been around more than one professional surf event (either ASP or WSL) would have seen Woody. He was the head of security and looked it with shorn head and severe goatee. Unlike most security guards, though, he was quick to laugh. He seemed to know he was in on the joke. That surfing was “professional” and needed “security.”
This morning he was found dead in his San Clemente hotel room.
Stab has already posted a thoughtful and sensitive piece but bury a key element in the URL and Kelly’s Instagram post without really touching it themselves.
The likely cause of death was suicide.
And why is it so impossibly hard for us to get our heads around suicide? To even say or write the word?
We brush it away, into the URL or onto someone else’s shoulders as quickly as we can. It is a poison. A horrible, unspeakable blank.
Jamie Tworkowski, a surfer and best-selling author from Florida has spent his life dirtying his hands in these freezing cold, uncomfortable waters.
I met him a lifetime ago in his hometown. He started and runs the foundation To Write Love on Her Arms which deals directly and head on with suicide. With its stigma and with letting the light in, the air in, so maybe, just maybe, other suicides won’t happen. Read all about him and TWLOHA here. He is a champion.
And so I call him for more. Because how do we talk about it? How do we look it in the eye? How do we not brush suicide away anymore?
His voice is warm.
Look, these folks who knew him, who loved him are hurting. It hurts beyond anything. But how do we talk about it? How do we talk about suicide? Well, the leading cause of suicide is untreated depression. Can we talk about that? Can we talk about our problems? Problems that we all have and carry with us every day? We are not really allowed to go there but that’s where we need to go. We have to go to the headwaters and really deal with the issues.
Woody’s death is super hard news, it’s super painful but there’s still a way to honor him. He lived, he had a family, he impacted so many people. The way he died doesn’t take away from any of that and I’m not interested in speculating on the causes of his death. None of that goes away because of how he died.
But what do we need for the living? For the people struggling under depression or the burden of problems they think are too great to escape?
You are not alone. There are great resources and I talk with people every single day who are alive even through the struggle.
There is hope.
There is hope.
And God bless you Woody. Thanks for letting me get right in the middle of Damien Hobgood vs. Dingo Morrison leash pull incident freak out at Pipeline’s showers without shoving me aside. It was a thing of beauty.