Theory Of Relativity: Andrew Koenig’s Suicide

by Ben Hoffman

On February 25th, actor Andrew Koenig hung himself. On the surface, he had everything going for him. He was a child star and regular on the TV sitcom Growing Pains. His father was Walter Koenig who played Chekov in Star Trek, which gave him an easy entry into an acting career. He never knew what it was like to struggle to become an actor, much less to earn a living.

To most of us, we have to work to better ourselves and with each accomplishment, our sense of self-worth increases. Each failure gives us the opportunity to work harder or try something else. But it is a struggle. Dealing with the tedium and drudgery of a regular job is tough.

Most of us would give anything to walk in Andrew Koenig’s shoes. To be born into wealth would be a dream. How nice it would be not to have to worry about earning a living. We could dedicate our days to hobbies and just have a good ol’ time every day. It would be a permanent vacation.

In an old Twilight Zone episode, the main character was a heavy gambler, pool hustler, drinker, womanizer… He is killed and finds himself in what he initially believes to be heaven. He wins all his bets, his pool games, and gets away with all his nefarious activities. Winning all the time takes away the thrill of facing danger, though, which takes away the excitement and makes it boring. It turns out, he had not gone to heaven but to a highly personalized hell. Winning means nothing if there’s no chance of losing.

It could be, with people like Andrew Koenig, who was born wealthy and had everything handed to him, they face their own personal hell by not having to struggle to achieve anything. In life, everything is relative.

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42 Comments to “Theory Of Relativity: Andrew Koenig’s Suicide”

  1. Very insightful Ben.

    I’m reminded of my favorite Twilight Zone episode – another version of watch what you wish for:

    Burgess Meredith played a hen pecked husband and bank teller who only wanted to read books but never was able.

    He ends up as the sole survivor of a nuclear blast that miraculously preserves thousands of library books. Finally, he has all the time in the world.

    And then he trips over a book, falls to the ground – and breaks his glasses.

    I always liked that he fell over a book. Circular story.

  2. Another thing, too, is that depression doesn’t discriminate. Whether you’re a child star, the son of a child star (like Marie Osmond’s son, who killed himself two nights ago), or an average person just trying to get through life, a disease like depression can be debilitating. No one is exempt from the struggles of life.

  3. It is sad when people believe they don’t have options for happiness.

    • Vern

      Usually thinking has nothing to do with the ability to pursue the options. A depressed person wants happiness and even knows the steps necessary to get there. They just can’t do it. It’s nearly impossible to explain, but there’s an ego paralysis that keeps the depressed person from action. Kind of like being behind a fence. And I know.

      I know nothing of this guy who committed suicide. So I can’t assume depression has anything to do with it.

      • Most likely depression had everything to do with it. Ben’s enquiry of how could some who seemed to “have it all” commit suicide … is what I used to think too. Through what I’ll just call ‘stuff’ I entered into seriously deep depression … THEN I understood. “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things he possesseth.”
        Like I said in my other comment it’s the feeling of despair that’s so great, it’s overwhelming and death is the only way out … because everything is meaningless. Have a great weekend Moe.

      • Stay healthy Steve and Sleepy. Good for us that we get through these things. (until the next time anyway)

  4. It could be, with people like Andrew Koenig, who was born wealthy and had everything handed to him, they face their own personal hell by not having to struggle to achieve anything. In life, everything is relative.

    Wait wait wait…..

    THIS is the Twilight Zone.

    See, rich people with everything handed to them CAN’T have troubles or bad lives. They enjoy the life of luxury reserved for only the very very few powerful corporatist and capitalist pigs.

    They have cinnamon rolls for breakfast and cream with their coffee. Lunch is anything anywhere. Dinner, only the best will do. They never feel the pangs of want or the distinct feeling of need. They live forever and die young.

    It is us, born to poverty and destined to die in poverty that can only understand the tender mercies of anguish.

    • It could be, people like that have time on their hands to waste thinking about their problems while the rest of us are busy trying to earn a living. Don’t get me wrong, Pino, I’m not feeling sorry for this guy. I just like to try to understand human nature.

  5. Ms. Holland,

    ” Iโ€™m reminded of my favorite Twilight Zone episode โ€“ another version of watch what you wish for: ”

    That was a good one, but my two favorites were ” Will the real Martian please stand up” and ” Talking Tina”.

    That was when drama writers knew what they were doing . Here is a tip, do not see Shutter Island .

    At any rate I have known suicidal people . You help them all you can, but you can’t stop them . In the end they have to pull themselves out of it .

  6. [That was when drama writers knew what they were doing .]

    And that was when the networks were willing to take a chance and produce original stuff. Like Playhouse 90 – live original dramas. LIVE. That was courageous.

  7. Indy from AZ had a comment here – then it disappeared?

  8. A “hissy fit” was it?
    Gee, I just said that using the Koenig families tragedy to push your class ware agenda was disgusting and disrespectful.
    Gee, I wonder how that’s a “hissy fit”.
    Oh, that’s right, i disagreed with an almighty “intellectual”…
    Sorry. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    • I don’t have a class war agenda. I was just trying to understand why someone who seemed to have everything going for him would kill himself.

      • As a person who knows better than he’d want to, MONEY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
        So trying understand why “rich” people would kill themselves because they have everything you want is not the right mindset to begin with.
        It has nothing to do with money.
        Trust Me.
        And he wasn’t famous and has a famous rich dad, would you have cared?
        Probably not.

      • I probably wouldn’t have heard about it if his father wasn’t famous. It’s not really a matter of caring. It’s more a matter of trying to understand human nature. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Depression is no ‘respecter of persons’. It’s a difficult condition to undestand. Pretty much so that people that haven’t experienced it relate it to a person just being “bummed out”. It’s nothing like that. My entire life I never considered suicide, I’ve always felt that death is something that takes care of itself. However, through my own self destructiveness, maybe even a chemical imbalance, I experienced severe depression and suicide was a very real possibility. It’s kinda wierd…like a feeling of overwhelming despair. Oh well, don’t know what got me going.
    Good post Ben.

    • I get that feeling when I hear Sarah Palin speak. ๐Ÿ™‚

      But seriously, I know what you mean about self-destructiveness. I spent a good part of my late teens and 20s doing drugs and drinking heavily. I never thought I’d live to see my 30th birthday, nor did I have any desire to.

      • Well aren’t we all just birds of a feather. Recovered alcoholic here – not a drink in 27 years. But I have told the kids that when my time comes, they are to prop me up against a shade tree where there’s a nice breeze and then leave me there – with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black, some very fine hallucinogenic drugs and a few packs of cigarettes. I will examine my navel until I breathe my last.

      • I think I never grew up.

    • Steve, that’s a very good description, especially considering the fact that depression is so hard to describe. Those of us who have experienced it (or are experiencing it, as is my case) can understand each other almost without words, but it’s pretty much impossible for someone who’s “healthy” to understand. I think that’s what makes it so frustrating and insidious. It’s very easy to dismiss someone with depression.

      Wishing you all the best!

      -SG

      • Thank you SG. Yes, it’s an impossible condition for people to understand. I know I never did until it came upon me. And I wish you all the best as well.

      • Guys – I have pretty much given up on trying ot explain to other people, as I’m sure you have.

      • Would you say it’s hatred turned inward or a feeling of helplessness to control your own destiny? Or something else?

      • Helplessness, perhaps; maybe not in controlling one’s destiny … just overall despair. Anyway, it’s neither here nor there anymore.

      • It’s not self hatred Ben. At least that’s not the cause. It can become that while one is in a depressed state.

        For most people – even those whose depression is situational (death of a spouse, loss of job etc) – it’s chemical. I’ve read a great deal to try and understand why this kept happening and I no longer have any doubts about that.

        One of the oddest things – for me at least – is that I can feel a depression coming on – kind of like you feel a cold coming on. It’s the most helpless feeling in the world. You know this is going to happen and you can’t stop it.

        Steve may be able to confirm this – I find as I get older that they’re not as deep and they don’t last as long.

      • What you said is true Moe. There’s not any self hatred. Perhaps some feelings of worthlessness mixed in. I too can feel it coming on. Though, unlike Moe, it’s getting somewhat worse as I age. I do have the mind set to ride out the storm, so to speak.

      • [I do have the mind set to ride out the storm, so to speak.]

        Steve – maybe that’s why it’s not so bad. Because even though we can feel it coming, now we have enough experience to know that it will also leave and that makes it a bit easier.

  10. Ms. Holland,

    ” then leave me there โ€“ with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black, some very fine hallucinogenic drugs and a few packs of cigarettes. ”

    The booze I can see, but the cigarettes, those things are habit forming and will kill you . ๐Ÿ™‚

    I want to go like the old Eskimos. Just put me out in the snow next to a fire with a pile of sticks . When the sticks run out, the wolves come in and eat you .

    My kids always threaten to put in a local home that they know I hate .

    Mr. Hoffman,

    ” I spent a good part of my late teens and 20s doing drugs and drinking heavily. ”

    So now I know why you were a Republican . You partied with George Bush . ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Mr. Hoffman,

    Guess I hung with a more boring crowd . I might have been on my way to being an alcoholic like my friends and relatives, but at 22 I had my first explosive up chuck session . Then every time I drank heavily I got sick . Best thing that ever happened to me . Now I stick to beer, or if I do drink harder stuff, it’s gin . Never got sick or rowdy on gin and tonics . You just fall over quietly .

    • You wuss. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I once fell down a flight of stairs after drinking about a half a bottle of gin. I don’t drink any more, though. Haven’t had a drink in years. The only time I really miss it is when the in-laws come over. They’re hard to deal with sober.

  12. Mr. Hoffman,

    See if you had slowed down just a little when you were young you could still have a couple now . Sometimes I don’t have a drop for months, but I know I can go to the fire company or the gun club and have a beer . Just knowing that makes being a wuss ok .

    Most of the guys I drank with who were never sober in the old days are pretty much physical wrecks now . Some are on SS disability, making sure that will be dry before I get there . Remember when SS was only for old people ?

    If I could only get all my money out of that ponzi scheme with interest and no taxes, which is only fair, I would not trouble Uncle Sam in my declining years . I want my medicare taxes back too .

    • There is a lot of abuse of SSDI. I used to know a woman who was extremely obese, smoked heavily, and developed diabetes from being fat, and she was able to collect SSDI. Then there are the psychologically “disabled” with the disorder du jour who collect. And now we have middle aged people claiming they have Alzheimers because they can’t remember things like they used to. Laziness is not a disability.

      As far as drinking, I’m not an alcoholic. Alcohol makes me feel nauseous due to other factors, so I stopped drinking.

  13. Mr. Hoffman,

    ” Then there are the psychologically โ€œdisabledโ€ with the disorder du jour who collect. And now we have middle aged people claiming they have Alzheimers because they canโ€™t remember things like they used to. Laziness is not a disability. ”

    You really are heartless, aren’t you ?

    • [You really are heartless, arenโ€™t you ?]

      You damn liberals think that you’re entitled to live off the government just because you’re too lazy to work. What ever happened to the work ethic and rugged individualism? It’s no wonder our country is in decline. You make me sick.

  14. Indy in AZ,
    Al Franken correctly pointed out a true story in which during the French Revolution, peasants broke into a rich manor house, burned the man of the house alive while forcing the wife and children to watch. Then they forced the woman to consume the roasted flesh before they repeatedly raped and then murdered her.
    THAT is class warfare. Disagreeing with someone’s politics is not.

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