The Washington Post reports today about Vice President Joe Biden’s speech to Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors wherein he did something not often seen of prominent politicians—or even of men in general: He admitted how close he came to wanting to end it all after the deaths of his wife and their 13 month-old daughter in a car accident.
“For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide,” Biden told a meeting of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors at a hotel in Crystal City. The group offers counseling to relatives and friends of military personnel who have died. It was holding its 18th annual military survivor seminar.
In a speech to the friends and families of fallen troops on Friday, Vice President Joe Biden shared the agonizing experience of losing his first wife and daughter in a car crash in 1972.
“Not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts,” Biden continued, according to a transcript. “Because they’d been to the top of the mountain, and they just knew in their heart they’d never get there again, that it was never going to get — never going to be that way ever again. That’s how an awful lot of you feel.”
In a society where men are often given little resources for grief and pain, for a man so prominent as the Vice President to speak publicly about his own feelings of despair has to be seen as a step forward in helping men deal with the issues of depression and suicidal thoughts.
Biden offers for survivors to chart their bad days, so they can see that over time, while the bad times are still just as bad, they do become further apart.
What do you think of our Vice President speaking about his own grief? Does this help progress toward allowing men to be something besides the “pillars of strength” for society? Or is this confession decidedly un-presidential?