The Famous Jett Jackson actor Lee Thompson Young is dead at age 29. According to reports from TMZ and hard news organizations, such as ABC and the Chicago Tribune, Jackson committed suicide. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Young didn't show up for work today, say sources. His landlord discovered his body after someone on staff with TNT's Rizzoli & Isles asked the landlord to check on him.
This news is pure heartbreak for me. I watch Rizzoli & Isles. I also remember him on Smallville, and my son watched him on Disney as Jett Jackson. Whenever he sees Young in anything, the first thing out of his mouth is, "Hey! It's Jett Jackson." I felt good seeing him move from child actor to maintaining a career, something that's hard to do, especially for African-American actors. Now this. So, young. So, tragic.
This is as shocking to me as Cory Monteith's death. I am old enough to be these actors' mother, and when I hear of their tragic deaths, I think about how my own son might take such news, how might it shape his outlook on life. What dark options for dealing with existential problems and misery do these types of deaths plant in the minds of these young men's peers?
Monteith's death was not intentional, but it was the result of indulging a dark coping mechanism, drugs, and perhaps, unknown to fans, Young may have struggled with depression or had some issue that made him feel facing the next day of life was too difficult. For some people, when facing a trial, the survival instinct grows weak and without something else to cling to--such as grasping how much pain your death will cause others or having a greater faith in your future or that an unseen power wants you to overcome the pain--the will to live or to find new ways to cope dwindles.
If those people could perceive in their dark night of soul that life goes in cycles, then maybe they could fight harder to survive the bad cycles knowing things will get better. I know this because I struggle to make it through myself sometimes, and I'm not talking about an ordinary blues.
This kind of tragedy also makes me wonder what leaks through when we see an actor's on-screen performance. How much of an actor's real self is she or he able to conceal when portraying a character. I thought Monteith's Glee character, Finn, seemed fragile and sensitive later in the show. Similarly, in the last episode of Rizzoli &; Isles I saw, it occurred to me that Young's character, Barry Frost, seemed a little unsure of himself. However, I thought the writers may have been changing the course of the character. It seemed as though another character, Frankie Rizzoli, was growing stronger than the Barry character.
It never occurred to me that Young himself may have been in some kind of psychic/emotional struggle. We just never know between screen and real life what's really going on, do we?
I send my prayers and condolences to his family and friends. This is a hard loss.