I was very sorry to hear about the passing of actor Kristoff St. John. He did not have an easy life. He was a child actor, and as a teenager, he and his family got ensnared in a very bad cult. His son was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and then took his own life in a mental health facility meant to prevent that horrific outcome. He and his son’s mother sued, settled out of court, but the heartbreak of outliving a child makes those awards, fame, and public goodwill seem meaningless.
I liked him as a child actor, but not as much as my grandmother, who adored him on the Young and the Restless. By all accounts, he was a very nice man, but in life, nice people don’t usually get to have happy lives.
His death bothers me. I understand the pain of having someone you love in the hands of “professional” others, and then they destroy your family’s life in a heartbeat, and on a permanent basis. People should feel outraged that this is another casualty of institutional neglect, but they won’t.
And St. John is a man who survived and thrived after being forced into a cult in a foreign country as a teenager. He was resilient, but there is so much someone with a heart can withstand.
But people who are emotionally turned-off don’t see the nuances of the tragedies that befall other people around them. They don’t think it will hit them or is rigging the reality to their detriment. You try to point things out, and then it’s a dismissive version of that everything will work itself out in the end and/or I have a good aura so nothing bad will ever hit me.
I remember I got into a spat with one cancer survivor who was convinced that she got cured because she wanted to get cured and had the right positive thoughts. I said to her that I had recently lost a very dear friend to cancer — and she, too, wanted to live more than anything else and had been very positive in her outlook, which was true. My friend had plans after her chemo, and a lot of it involved the two of us going back to our old routine of going out to different restaurants for lunch as we shamelessly exchanged snarky gossip about the powerful people who thought they could keep their rather pathetic lives hidden, but forgot that they were doing things in front of other people. She was a hoot, a sweetheart, and I still miss her.
People love to blame victims for their problems, and that is a surefire way of finding yourself in the same muck with no allies to help you, but plenty of enemies dancing at your sorrows.
The death of St. John’s son never sparked public outrage — and it should have. This is every parent’s worst nightmare. Every parent should have demanded to know what went wrong. The parents did everything right. This was out of their control.
And yet a nightmare still became their reality, and aside from a few gossip sites, people shrugged it off.
This isn’t just about depression or about loss of a child: this is about a series of events that brought that kind of level of pain to a parent, and was avoidable.
How society deals with its most vulnerable reveals just how compassionate and strong they actually are: face it head on with active solutions, and you have a strong and moral core. Shrug it off — or worse, blame or dismiss those caught in social apathy and lethargy, and you have an uncivilized society.
And if someone with that kind of high-profile is just as vulnerable as the poorest who are dispossessed and discarded, all those theories about how the rich and famous have it made proves to be a lie. If you don’t care about the poor, you don’t care about anyone.
And what’s all this struggling and fighting for? To what end? To enable a heartless and selfish society?
You had a gem, and you discarded it. That’s the bottom line. I hope both St. Johns found peace and reunion, but it is a horrible way to find either. Rest in peace, Mr. St. John, and sorry life didn’t appreciate you the way it should have…