Kirk Franklin Mourns Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss, Urges People To Check On Their Loved Ones This Christmas
Gospel artist Kirk Franklin reacted to the tragic suicide death of DJ, television host and dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss, opening up about his struggles with mental and health encouraging people to check in on their loved ones during the holiday season.
On Wednesday, Boss’ wife, fellow dancer Allison Holker Boss, announced her husband died at age 40, leaving behind their three children — Zaia, 3, Maddox, 6, and Weslie, 14.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to share my husband Stephen has left us,” Holker Boss said in a statement. “Stephen lit up every room he stepped into. He valued family, friends and community above all else and leading with love and light was everything to him. He was the backbone of our family, the best husband and father, and an inspiration to his fans.”
Boss died by suicide, according to the LA County Medical Examiner, TMZ first reported.
On social media, Franklin called Boss’ death “heartbreaking” and extended “heartfelt condolences” and prayers to the family. The gospel artist said he’s been open about his struggles with depression and anxiety — issues he said are often exacerbated during the holidays — to encourage others to seek help.
“I’m going to tell you what really helps me,” he said. “The community that I have around me that knows what I go through and have always been there for me, they check on me. They want to see how I’m doing during the holidays and they asked me real questions.”
Franklin encouraged others to “get on people’s nerves” and ask tough questions to their friends and family members struggling with mental health.
“Don’t be afraid to be intrusive; get on their nerves,” he stressed. “Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them about their thoughts; ask them about what they’re thinking.”
“It’s a beautiful thing when people get on my nerves,” he said “Get on somebody’s nerves today, check in on them, see how they’re doing. It makes a difference that you cannot imagine .. let’s keep holding each other up, we’re all we’ve got.”
A talented dancer, Boss appeared on MTV’s “The Wade Robson Project,” “Star Search” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” He later served as a judge for the dance competition and DJ’d on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” until the show ended this year.
Holker Boss said her late husband’s “positive impact will continue to be felt.”
“I am certain there won’t be a day that goes by that we won’t honor his memory,” she said in her statement. “We ask for privacy during this difficult time for myself and especially for our three children.”
Boss’s death sent shockwaves across the entertainment industry, with hundreds expressing their shock and devastation.
Across America, approximately 5.8 million children have been diagnosed with anxiety and another 2.7 million have been diagnosed with depression. Suicide has become the second-leading cause of death among people 10 to 34 years of age, according to the National Alliance of Mental Health.
In a social media post on Wednesday, Kayla Stoecklein, who lost her 30-year-old husband, Andrew Stoecklein — a megachurch pastor of Inland Hills Church in Chino, California — to suicide in 2018, offered resources to those struggling.
“I don’t have all of the answers. But I know we can continue to try. If we’re hurting, we can let people hold us long enough until we know that we’re not alone. If we’re suffering with thoughts of self-harm, we can pick up the phone and call someone. Maybe it’s the suicide hotline (988), maybe it’s the crisis text line (text HOME to 741741), or maybe it’s a therapist, family member or friend,” she wrote.
“And if we find ourselves on the receiving end of our loved ones raw emotions we can be brave enough to lean in. We can be brave enough to engage and ask questions. We can be brave enough to sit in the uncomfortable space together. We can be brave enough to check in again and again and again, even if our efforts are dismissed or rejected. And we can be brave enough to ask for help ourselves knowing it’s hard to pour out love from an empty cup.?”
In an op-ed for The Christian Post, Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church and the host of PowerPoint Ministries, encouraged the Church to be at the frontlines of the mental health crisis.
“The church has the potential to change the tide of the mental illness epidemic rising in our nation, but for this to happen we need to start talking about the issues. We need to equip ourselves so we can offer effective, practical care for people who need healing,” he wrote.
“We the church can no longer stand on the sidelines while people are suffering and hurting. We must step up and step in to end this critical cycle, before it’s too late.”
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, whose 27-year-old son Matthew died by suicide, recently encouraged those struggling with suicidal thoughts to remember three things: There’s a purpose for their lives, they are loved, and they are needed in this world.
“Please talk to somebody,” he said. “There are always people waiting to hear from you. If you’re hurting, help is here.”