Monday, December 10, 2012
Speculation Over Gretchen Molannen's Suicide
There has been a lot of speculation going on around the web since my friend, Gretchen Molannen, committed suicide on December 1st, immediately after she went public in the Tampa Bay Times with her story of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD).
Some have speculated that Gretchen was "planning all along" to kill herself right after the article was released. Others have wondered if she regretted going public or felt scandalized by the media.
I can tell you, in the past year that Gretchen and I became close friends, she attempted suicide three times. I know this because she wrote to me right before two of her attempts, and right after one that failed. I don't know if she attempted more than three times, but I think it is certainly possible. The last time she told me she tried to kill herself was October 15th, which is not very long ago.
As for the speculation about the media, I know that Gretchen approved the news article before it was printed. I also had to approve the blurb about me in the same article. To be honest, I think the article (as well as the on-line video) ended-up being told as sensitively as the 20/20 shows and news articles I have been in concerning my own PGAD.
Now, as to the question, did Gretchen feel exploited by the media? In her words to me, yes, "a bit". The interview process for this single news article went on for a much, much longer period of time than any article I have ever been interviewed for, and I know that Gretchen felt worn down by the seemingly never-ending interview. The stress made her PGAD even worse, and caused her to "abuse" herself more than usual.
I encouraged Gretchen to let the reporter know how hard the interview process had become, or to consider completely pulling out. Gretchen informed me that she had a discussion with the reporter, and the reporter apologized. Gretchen then decided to go on and complete the article, and do the video as well, in desperate hope that by doing so, someone would offer her medical care.
I have no idea what truly went on inside Gretchen's mind the day she committed suicide. What I do know, is that Gretchen was an incredibly strong-willed woman. Unlike my own PGAD, which medicine has made somewhat manageable --so that I can have days without any symptoms-- Gretchen had severe PGAD day-in and day-out, for 16 years! If I were her, I would not have lasted that long.
Gretchen was also so very strong-willed that she was determined to find medical help, going so far as to put an ad in Craig's List begging for a physician to help her! Sadly, not one doctor replied to her ad, but the reporter did, and the reporter did so out of hope to find Gretchen some help.
You know what? The article did find Gretchen help. Lots of help! Yes, indeed, after Gretchen put herself in the public eye, doctors suddenly jumped at the chance to say, "Oh, I will help the poor girl!"
That is the tragic, tragic truth.
If we are all going to speculate just who is to blame for Gretchen's death, the uncomfortable truth staring us in the face is not the media, who, although, took a very long time to get all the facts straight, I believe the reporter's motivation was pure: to find Gretchen help.
So who does that leave to blame? It leaves everyone.
Everyone is to blame who knew Gretchen needed financial help but didn't give her a cent, every useless doctor who Gretchen scrounged-up the money to see, only to get nothing but insults in return, the expensive specialists she called and e-mailed, but chose to ignore her cry for help, the judges who she came before twice, only to deny her disability, twice! The system is to blame for not renewing Gretchen's medicaid, every Christian who knew she needed prayer, but did not present her needs to God, every person who knew she was in a dire situation, myself included, we are to blame. We did not support her enough, we did not love her enough, and we certainly did not give her the help she was begging us for.
In the end, my fellow humans, there is no need to speculate: Gretchen's death is on all of our hands.