Matt Kuhns, RIP

By | Monday, June 20, 2022 1 comment
Yesterday, my friend Matt took his own life. He told me himself, having had composed an email he had set to automatically send after he stopped manually postponing it. For an hour or two, I held on to some hope that he had maybe just had some computer problems or something and wasn't ablet to postpone it again, but another friend of his who got a similar message had been able to stop by his place to confirm his pasing.

I've known Matt for about a quarter century. We met on a Fantastic Four message board in the late 1990s, talking about the latest issues and developments. This would've been, I think, right after the Heroes Reborn experiement concluded and the book was relaunched with Scott Lobdell and Alan Davis at the creative helm for context. As it happened, Matt had also just started going to school to study graphic design and I had recently gotten my Bachelor's in exactly that and was working professionally in the field, so we talked about that a fair amount as well. We finally met in person around 2006; he had moved from Iowa to northeastern Ohio and I was living in the Dayton area, so we were physically close enough to catch up in person not infrequently. Still far enough apart that most of our communications were online though. But even as the message board disappeared, we continued talking through multiple channels, popping between email and Twitter and message boards and whatever else happened to be handy. If you go back through my blog here, Matt's easily the most frequent commenter.

Outside of his comments here, though, we actually haven't discussed comics much in recent years. At least, as far as a percentage of our interactions. He still collected comics, though not as many as he used to. We both took a more expansive view of the medium and our interest would be piqued more by a brochure or signage that utilized comic elements as a form of graphic design than whatever adventures Starman may have been in this month. But he also became more socio-politically aware, and our discussions in recent years tended to revolve around governmental responsibilities, climate change, macroeconomics, etc. Matt was smart, both in what he knew and what he didn't know. He had great takes on subjects he studied, but also knew how/when to rely on experts when he started getting beyond his own expertise. We've talked at length about any variety of things going on in the world and, whie we didn't always 100% agree on everything, I think we both shared a healthy respect from where the other person was coming from.

Matt's the third friend I've had from comics who took his own life. The first was perhaps the closest to what you might expect a stereotypical suicide victim to look like; he suffered from crippling depression and wasn't able to get the help he needed. He deliberately took a massive overdose of pills to escape. The second also suffered from depression, but it had remained largely under control until he moved away to help take care of his elderly father, who had been falling victim to Alzheimer's. Without his usual support network, my friend slipped into alcoholism and (I think, inadvertently) drank himself to death. Matt was decidedly more sanguine. He left a few final posts on his blog -- also written well in advanced and queued to post after he passed -- and I don't know that I can really summarize them, but he had the air of a person facing terminal cancer and choosing to exit using their own devices rather than deal with a prolonged, painful, and likely not very dignified set of final days. He seems to have had made his peace, and I can only hope his final moments were equally peaceful.

Given that Matt seemed to go out of his way to share his final thoughts -- both the general ones on his blog and the personal ones he sent to friends -- and that he was calm and wasn't acting on impulse, I have to take solace in whatever personal peace he found before he passed. I'm still upset, though, that I won't be able to see/talk to my friend any more and you'll have to excuse me if I don't post anything here for a bit while I come to terms with that.

If you're in need of help, please please please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. If you have recently lost someone to suicide, here are some resources that Matt himself had posted right after his passing.
Goodbye, Matt. I miss you already.
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Unknown said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend, and his loss also. I never knew Matt, but just saw his posting yesterday. Reading them really hit me hard as he poured out so much of himself in his writing. I hope you can have some comfort in knowing that he touched at least one more person. -Bob