COLUMN: Mark Sailing’s death highlights a bigger issue

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

By Marisa Karpes, Columnist

On Jan. 30, Mark Salling, former star on the popular TV show “Glee,” was found dead in the woods near his home in Los Angeles. His cause of death was asphyxia by hanging. In December 2015, Salling was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. Over 50,000 images were found on his computer and flash drive. Many “Glee” fans, including myself, felt betrayed by this news and his suicide made matters all the more profound.

Salling was looking to face 4-to-7 years in prison and was to give the victims and their families $50,000 each in restitution. Victims now, however, will have to go after his $2 million estate since the case has been dismissed following his death.

Many could argue that Salling’s life was essentially over anyway, for even if he got through prison, his career as an actor would be over and no one would want to associate with him. What Salling did is definitely horrible and unforgivable - and reasonably so. Nonetheless, I believe that a smidge of compassion is needed for him. His problems were not the root of evil, but of mental issues that failed to be addressed.

Pedophilia is an issue that people have a hard time talking about and it is completely understandable why. Even when the issue is brought up, it is usually after something happens - when it is too late. When there is already a victim. Or victims.

I believe there is a way to address and even attempt to fix this issue before it goes too far. Pedophilia is classified as a psychiatric disorder and, like many other psychiatric disorders, has treatments such as therapy and medication. If pedophiles were able to get help for their sexual urges towards children, there would be less of a chance for instances of children getting involved to act on these urges.

However, most pedophiles keep their problems hush-hush, just as Salling did, and that is no surprise. Being a pedophile is a very shameful thing that one would not want people to know about. There is no getting help and no hope in improving the lives of the people affected by this if they cannot open up. They cannot help themselves; matters can only get way worse, as it did when it led to Salling’s ultimate demise.

This is why we need to change the environment around talking about this subject. It is never going to be a good or common topic to talk about, but bringing forth this conversation may be the only way people like Mark Salling could get help. We need to treat pedophilia like the disease that it is and encourage pedophiles to get the help they need to not only help themselves, but lessen the amount of people who would be victimized. People who were victims of such sexual abuse often turn into abusers themselves. Without some sort of solution, the cycle will never end.

When the news broke out that Salling passed away, there was no #RIPMarkSalling around social media. For the most part, there was no mourning his death as there was when his co-star and friend Cory Monteith died back in July 2013. Only a handful of Salling’s “Glee” colleagues mentioned anything about him or the issue at hand. Many did not feel sorry for him and some even went as far as to celebrate his death. Barely any words defended his mental health.

I am not asking the world to forgive Mark Salling or any pedophile that victimized children as Salling had. He made the choice to not get help for his urges and to act on them instead. It is okay to be angry with him. In order to lower the chances of something like this happening again, we need to create a world where everyone, no matter the issue, can not feel discouraged from getting treatment with their mental health problems.