He is horrid. Long before a woman bent on ending her life leaped from Seattle’s Ship Canal Bridge, that was obvious. Tom Leykis is horrid.
And it was shameful. When commuters, according to police and news reports, yelled "Jump!" and "Get it over with!" at the suicidal woman last week, that was obvious. Anyone who’d hurl taunts at a despairing person is shameful.
It all seemed too obvious to write about. That’s why I am so late with this column.
What do you say about Leykis, a syndicated talk-radio swine heard during afternoon drive time on KQBZ-FM, the self-proclaimed "Buzz"?
Boiled down to its slimy core, Leykis’ misogynistic shtick is a smutty rant on getting women to put out. Wildly popular, he shows up at public appearances and signs women’s breasts. Who gives a rip? He spews a foul brand of entertainment. Millions listen. Why write about him?
On Tuesday’s show, Leykis crossed a line. I don’t care if he’s lewd and rude, that’s his business, and a lucrative business it is. Tuesday, he went from being indecent to being inhuman.
Leykis broadcast the name of the woman who jumped 160 feet from the bridge.
She has a lot to recover from, the 26-year-old woman. A spine fracture and chest and abdominal injuries. A psyche so troubled she wanted to die. And now this new blow from a whoring creep. "Blow me up Tom," indeed.
The shock jock’s Web site says he identified the woman "for ratings and to draw attention to the rest of the media’s efforts to keep it secret."
Get a clue, Tom. In this medium, suicide victims aren’t named for the sake of cheap entertainment.
"Newspapers are no different," Leykis countered in a Seattle Times article Wednesday about his decision to name the woman. "No business thinks about morality."
Well I am gratified to be in a business that does.
And I am glad to finally say what should be obvious: Human decency is in a downward spiral. We’ve reached a nadir when people stuck in cars let hate fill their ears and flow from their mouths.
"Jump!" "Get it over with!"
How low will this culture go? Who among us hasn’t been in a deep, dark hole? What if that woman was someone you loved?
Dr. Shirley Stallings is a psychiatrist who has worked extensively with people who have attempted suicide. She is also medical director of Compass Health, a behavioral health agency serving Snohomish County.
After a suicide crisis, Stallings said, "people have to deal with a lot of embarrassment."
"If anybody was involved in rescuing them, a neighbor or family member, there’s a lot of getting past the embarrassment that ‘I got to that point, and this person knows.’ That’s a really hard thing. There’s a lot of stigma in having a mental health problem."
Susan Fox, Compass’ director of development, was once tormented by depression. She knows the stigma firsthand.
"You don’t call your mom and say, ‘I have depression’ like you call your mom and say, ‘I have the flu.’ A lot of people said how selfish this woman was," Fox said. "When you’re contemplating suicide due to a brain disease, you are not thinking about the rest of the world.
"This woman needs compassion, not hate," Fox said. "She needs compassion and medical help, just like someone who has cancer."
Compassion. Hear that, Leykis?
Hear this, too.
"Even if it had never been that public," Stallings said, "she has an incredible amount to recover from, physically and now all this stuff.
"It’s just huge," the doctor said. "And it puts her at higher risk of potentially wanting to carry the act out."
Higher risk. Hear it and live with it, Leykis
I’m late, but this needs saying. Obviously.