Opinion: Why Do Famous People Commit Suicide?
By on August 20th, 2012

The headline reads “Official: British director Tony Scott dead after jumping from California bridge“. The former ‘Top Gun’ director who seemingly had everything going for him was witnessed jumping off a California bridge “without hesitation”, according to a witness on the scene. When I hear news like this, I think to myself, “Why?” Wasn’t it last week that I read about “Real World” star, Joey Kovar, who died at age 29 from apparent drug overdose? Though his wasn’t ruled a suicide, it seemed to me to be a senseless death for someone with so much potential. If you’re like me, you may wonder, “why do famous people commit suicide?” It is easy to over-think this question I believe, because these people are famous and we think that somehow whatever drove them to fame would keep them immune from the ills of the common man. However, this simply isn’t true. Humans are humans no matter what social status they aspire to. I think whatever causes the famous to commit suicide are very much the same factors that drive any person to do the same.

Tony Scott

‘Top Gun’ Director Tony Scott

Don’t get me wrong, I understand with fame and fortune also comes a lot of pressure. Let’s face it, most famous people are very driven, hard working people. I think a lot of the pressure these celebrities endure comes from within. Without oversimplifying the issue, I believe a lot of celebrities find that life’s troubles are still waiting there for them to deal with even when they reach the top. They try to fill the void in their hearts with high society, drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex, all of which are temporary highs. Others I believe, reach a point where they feel like they’ve done about all they can do. Their whole identity as a person is wrapped up in their fame and when the applause fades so does their desire to live in this world. It is so tragic that these bright and shining stars who possess great ability would choose to end their life. However, when I look at them in the context of all humanity, they really exhibit characteristics that you would find in all of us common folk. I have a saying, “Money makes you more of what you are”. This is just my personal belief, but I believe the evidence is there to support it. Money on its own doesn’t save people. To me, it seems to act as a multiplier. If a person is a wreckless jerk, then they will be a rich wreckless jerk with money.

Prevalence of Suicide

The National Institute of Mental Health website displays a staggering statistic regarding suicide in the U.S. Pictured below, you will see that in the year 2007, suicide ranked number 4 in the top 10 causes of death in the U.S.

Suicide 2007

I found this statistic quite shocking. I never would have dreamed that there are more suicides in the U.S. than stroke victims or homicides. This tells me we have a serious issue in our country that isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

Alex Lickerman, MD posted on KevinMD.com, 6 reasons people commit suicide. I will outline his reasons below with some of my thoughts mixed in the descriptions.

    • They’re depressed – Depression is a disease. It is a treatable disease. This is where I will get very personal with you. I suffered untreated major depression for nearly 16 years because of several factors. One was the “stigma” associated with mental illness. I also felt like psychology and psychiatry were kind of a quack science and I really didn’t trust the system. As one who finally gave in and spoke to my doctor about my depression, I have to say I could kick myself for waiting so long. Family doctors are not perfect, nor are psychiatrists for that matter, but I will say the benefits of getting treated outweigh the frustrations you may face with doctors. Get treated and FIGHT FOR YOURSELF!
    • They’re psychotic – Schizophrenia is often misunderstood and affects about 1% of the population worldwide. People with schizophrenia often hear inner voices that urge them to hurt themselves or others. This is a treatable disease as well, but can have severe consequences if untreated.
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Author: Darrin Jenkins Google Profile for Darrin Jenkins
Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!

Darrin Jenkins has written and can be contacted at darrin@techie-buzz.com.

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