On Saturday, December 1, 25-year-old Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins, before driving to Arrowhead Stadium, thanking the general manager and head coach for all they’d done for him, and shooting himself, effectively completing suicide.
Naturally, the Internet is frantic, scrambling to report news about the murder-suicide. Belcher wasn’t the most well-known NFL player, but the situation is absolutely tragic and people are curious.
Belcher was wealthy and famous, after all. He’d been a member of the Male Athletes Against Violence initiative during his time at the University of Maine, and he had a degree in child development and family relations. He and Perkins had just welcomed a baby girl into their lives.
Since Saturday, I’ve read and listened to some speculation among the news reports, and I thought it’d be appropriate to share my thoughts on some of the indisputable facts about the situation.
- We don’t know why Jovan Belcher committed a murder-suicide. We’ve read about how he and his girlfriend might’ve had a strained relationship since the birth of their daughter (some friends have said they fought over “normal couple stuff”), but – at the time of this post – we don’t know about any underlying life or mental health issues that could have lead to this tragedy.
- Fame and wealth don’t matter. Upon hearing the news Saturday night, one of my friends said, “He was rich and famous. Only 25. What reason could he possibly have for killing himself?” Rather than hop up on my soap box, I simply reminded her that the causes for suicide are varied and complex, and being rich and famous and young isn’t always going to be enough.
- There is a baby. Belcher and Perkins left behind a three-month-old daughter, in addition to other family members and friends.
- Jovan Belcher was a person. Before passing judgment on a rich football player who killed his girlfriend and himself, we must remind ourselves that Belcher was a person just like you and me, with the same human emotions and feelings.
- There is always another option. I’ve said it before: Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Regardless of mental health issues, relationship and other life problems, and feelings of hopelessness, despair, and isolation, there is always a better solution than suicide.
In the wake of the Jovan Belcher-Kassandra Perkins murder-suicide, let’s send out thoughts and prayers for the family and friends the couple left behind.