The news of celebrated dancer and DJ Stephen “tWitch” Boss’ apparent suicide at a hotel in Encino, California, on Dec. 13 sent shockwaves through the social media-verse.
Many celebrities and fans alike took to social media to pay tribute to Boss, who captured the hearts of millions on “So You Think You Can Dance,” in “Magic Mike XXL”, and as the longtime DJ and eventual stand-in host on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Several posts noted the joy that Boss constantly shared with others.
“Thanks for always laughing and smiling with me,” said Fox sports analyst and former NFL linebacker Emmanual Acho.
“I’ve always known you as joy, laughter, good times and a big smile,” singer Ciara wrote.
Former NBA basketball player Dwyane Wade said anyone who interacted with Boss, 40, would be hurt by the news of his passing.
“Grateful to have had this moment in your light,” Wade tweeted, along with a video of him dancing with Boss during the “Ellen” final season.
Having known him to be such a positive person, many were further surprised by how Boss died.
“[tWitch] was such a light and a beautiful soul. Shocked and deeply saddened,” Jennifer Lopez wrote on Instagram.
Actor and comedian Marlon Wayans, who had recently seen the performer, said the two chatted about plans for the future.
“Always such a good, positive soul. Spoke of reinvention of ourselves in this journey. Rest well my friend,” Wayans said, before referencing an old adage about the realities of perception.
“You never know what people are going through,” Wayans said. “Sorry if we all wasn’t listening.”
It is, indeed true, that one can never assume what someone is experiencing internally. The same people we see smiling, celebrating and posting dance videos with their wives, as Boss did just days before his passing, might actually be struggling just to find the energy to wake up, do simple tasks and live.
“Check on your loved ones, guys,” singer and actress LeToya Luckett wrote in her tribute to tWitch, who she said she never knew personally.
While checking in on friends and family is important always, as trials and tribulations are indiscriminate of the time of the year, the holiday season can be particularly trying for many.
In 2014, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that 64% of people with mental illness say the holiday season makes their conditions worse.
A 2021 Sesame survey showed that 3 in 5 Americans feel their mental health is negatively affected during the holiday, with 60% reporting an increase in anxiety, 52% feeling an increase in depression, and nearly 70% feeling more financial stress.
The coronavirus pandemic, which persists among this rampant flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) season, also contributed to mental health challenges. According to the survey, 64% of Americans also feel increased COVID-19-related stress.
The Sesame survey found that 22% of Americans alleviate their stress by chatting with someone – 12% talk to mental health professionals, while 10% speak with trusted friends and family.
Although not everyone is a mental health professional, we can all be a friend to someone.
A simple phone call or plan to meet up can be just what a friend needs this holiday season – and beyond.
And it’s not just the friends who you know are lonely or have struggled with mental health. Boss appeared joyful and was married to dancer Allison Holker. The couple had three children.
In fact, in this season of cheer, it is those who intentionally share their light who we must check in on the most. Are they spreading themselves too thin? Remind our “happy friends” to save comfort and joy for themselves.