Tyko Raboff 1967-2003

Tyko Raboff 1967-2003
This post is essentially about mental health. Why such a tough subject so early in the new year, you might ask? Well, Today is the 20th anniversary of when brother Tyko Raboff decided he no longer wanted to live. It’s taken this long for me to publicly open up and share some of my thoughts about this. Exactly why Tyko came to the conclusion that his only option was to end his life in a small, Parisian hotel room on January 3, 2003, will always be a tragic, painful, and unsolvable mystery to me and to everyone that knew him.

There are however several clues as to what led up to his suicide. Tyko had long struggled to find his way in life and how to deal with the overwhelming emotions he had. In his farewell letter, he made it very clear that much of the heartache in his life stemmed from dark memories of our often volatile, dysfunctional childhood that we both narrowly yet miraculously survived.

At the time of his death, Tyko was in one of his notoriously destructive relationships and when I spoke to him for the very last time, he sounded lonely, hollow, and lost. In contrast, my life was glowing. Our daughter Elle had just turned 3 and my life was brimming with joy and love for our small family. I was so busy with this new role and a new era in my life, that I became so distracted with all the positivity, that my otherwise close relationship with Tyko suffered.

I can of course only speculate, but as delighted as I know Tyko was for me and my newly formed family, perhaps he also felt abandoned and saddened, himself unable to find a path to long-lasting happiness.

He was on his way to Stockholm from Los Angeles when the flight that was supposed to take him from Charles de Gaulle to Arlanda was canceled and he was provided a room at the Phoenix Hotel in Paris. While there, he wrote a long farewell letter and then ended his life.

Mental health is a sensitive subject. Especially among men. But it’s something that definitely needs to be talked more openly about and without the stigma that often ensues when someone dares to share their existential thoughts and temporary loss of the very force that helps us overcome and move beyond all the hurdles life inevitably throws at us. I know that a few of my closest friends, men, and women, have sought and received help with shorter and longer periods of therapy. And I am sure that there are many more that would benefit from doing so.

I’ve seen a psychologist and though I’m not entirely convinced that the 20+ sessions helped me all that much, just being able to open up and have someone listen to my deepest, emotional thoughts and anxieties was cathartic, relieving somehow. I’m certainly no expert, but I do know that depression can manifest in a plethora of ways. Symptoms can be reflected physically, mentally, spiritually and as a nasty concoction of them all at once. Like it or not, admit it or not, depression is part of the human experience and yet so secretive and shameful to talk about. Especially here in Sweden.

Being a man, at least if you’re really in touch with yourself and not just constantly engaged in promoting the machismo persona you’ve constructed like some Dr. Frankenstein, is at times a dauntingly hard gig to pull off. Especially if you from time to time dwell too much on the past, unable to forget, forgive, or, at least move on. Tyko couldn’t and the culmination of sadness became too overwhelming, too heavy for him to carry in his heart. He drowned in a tsunami of sadness.

To mark the 20th anniversary of Tyko’s passing, I created a private Facebook group dedicated to his memory. I’ve sent an invite to a few that knew Tyko. If you haven’t received one and feel that you want to take part, let me know. Peace.