L'Wren Scott suicide: Only she knew why she did it. And that is how it should be
There are few things which fascinate us more than suicide. Especially when the person involved looks like one of the lucky ones.
The rabid media response to the death of L'Wren Scott, partner of Mick Jagger and successful fashion designer, to put her achievements in the order most newspapers appear to value them, has shone a light on the power of a suicide, even that of a stranger, to trouble and haunt us.
Online, on TV, in the print press, there has been a frenzy of speculation, a feverish combing of her background for clues, forensic studies of relationships and financial situations. Suicide had made this woman, whom few of us had much interest in previously, an item of delectable inscrutability.
Ostensibly she was a figure to be admired and envied; rich, beautiful, respected in her field, and in a 13-year-long relationship with a globally revered rock star who adored her. To choose death in the face of so much life; how is it possible? There was, we're told, no note. Which means Scott will forever remain an enigma, a terrible unfathomable tragedy, elevated to iconic status by an act most of us cannot compute.
It is this human instinct, to be agitated by a sane, fellow human's choice to do something which can't be processed, which has been exploited in the coverage of Scott's death. The Press has gone into dark places it has no right to go.
I understand why so many newspapers led with a huge close-up of Mick Jagger's bloodless grey face, dominated by an expression of confusion we rarely see on the sure-footed megastar, with a claim that this was the 'moment Mick heard L'Wren was dead!' If this was a movie, this would be the actor's on-the-money shot, capturing the immediate impact of shock and pain. Here is a man the very second he got broken. Look closely at the fear in his eyes, the drop of his jaw, the deep etch of strained muscles in his neck.
In the most ghoulish way, this image of Jagger is compelling, its comprehensive humanity offering a satisfaction that the mysterious death of his girlfriend never can. But this isn't a movie or a painting or even a psychological experiment. It's a real-life person. And we should be stepping away at this point – not flashing a torch.
Some papers went further than the standard investigation of Scott's rumoured financial difficulties or gossip about her being recently 'dumped' by Jagger (a suggestion refuted by Jagger himself the next day, when he stated that he had been 'devoted' to his 'lover and best friend' and was devastated by the loss).
They gave a selected rundown of Jagger's partners since he was 19, and pointed out that more than one (i.e. two) had at some point taken an overdose of sleeping pills. Other women had become disenchanted with life with the unfaithful 'super-vain' 'perpetual adolescent' and left him.
Anyone who's read Marianne Faithfull's autobiography knows she is a million miles from blaming Mick for her overdose – in fact, she expresses guilt about the way she left him, bereft and pleading – but that's the kind of inconvenient detail which spoils an attractive theory. It just adds more clutter to the mess the Press feel they have the job of tidying up.
When the successful football manager and family man Gary Speed ended his life back in 2011, there was a similar panic. Despite endless guesswork, we still have no idea why it happened. And that, frustrating as it might be, is as it should be.