THERE is an unspoken convention among most people that one does not speak ill of the dead; in the Sinhalese language, there is even a separate word to describe this.
Not that one needs to remind people of this; most people tend to be politically correct when a man or woman dies and refrain from speaking the truth. Even when Richard Milhous Nixon died, most people refrained from describing him as a crook – even though that was the mildest term one could use to characterise a thug like him.
A week or so ago, Charlotte Dawson, a TV personality, was found dead in her flat in Sydney. Dawson, who was approaching 50, made a name for herself by trying to take on social media trolls and outing them. She was prone to fits of depression and ended up in hospital for her troubles.
Dawson appears to have committed suicide. She was greatly affected by the troll affair. Further, her former husband, the swimmer Scott Miller, gave a detailed interview to a TV channel a few weeks before her death; this affected her greatly as well.
All the material published about her after her death was sympathetic to her; nobody pointed out that she should have received some advice while she was alive to avoid putting herself in situations that exposed her to situations that could have brought on depression.
She insisted on trying to be a high-profile person; yet, she was exactly the kind of person who should have kept a low profile as she could not handle the publicity and everything that normally follows in its wake.
As one writer put it: “I think you (Dawson) were also claimed by the fear of getting old. It is hard being 47. At the crisis of middle age, losing your sexual currency, becoming invisible.”
There’s more than a grain of truth in that; many people who crave attention find it frightening when they are not the centre of attention and will do anything to become the focus again. This was true of Dawson but she did not have the mental strength to handle what she undertook.