CELEBRITY SUICIDE

CELEBRITY+SUICIDE

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an estimated 121 people take their own lives each day. This makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the world. This unfortunate statistic includes everyone, including the celebrities that many look up to.

In their case, celebrity suicides affect not only their loved ones, but the countless fans who idolized them. Several well-known musical celebrities have famously committed suicide in the past, including Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, and Chester Bennington, the lead vocalist of Linkin Park. Robin Williams and Gee’s Cory Monteith are two actors that met the same fate. It can be devastating for anyone when they find out their favorite celebrity has died from suicide.  However, it can be an even rougher reality to fans that suffer from depression.

Chester Bennington’s suicide was especially hard on 20-year-old Emma Searing, who struggles with depression.

“Well, I found out about a day later [about Chester’s death], and I just remember my stomach dropping,” she said. “He was one of my idols when I was younger, and I could not help but feel a deep personal loss when I heard. I walked around in a slump for a few days. The world lost a talented musician and his family lost a wonderful man.”

When a celebrity commits suicide, it may influence fans who are depressed to take their own lives as well. Jill Harkvay-Freidman, vice-president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said “It can trigger suicidal feelings in someone who maybe was suicidal in the past.”

As explained by Evonne Jones, a counselor at Piedmont College, people already suffering from depression can strongly relate to celebrity suicides.

“It could cause them to feel like they are in [the celebrity’s] shoes and that that is them,” she said. “They may think, ‘If they could not cope, I do not have the strength to cope either.’”

Kurt Cobain’s 1994 suicide affected many people, including Piedmont College Mass Communications professor Joe Dennis, who has clinical depression.

“Kurt Cobain was someone I felt I could relate to when I was in high school,” he said. “Like Kurt, I felt all alone and isolated from society, and when he killed himself, I could not help but wonder if I should do the same.”

The way a celebrity’s suicide is reported in the media can affect the impact it has on people. When Cobain died, the media covered his suicide delicately, contributing to decreased suicide rates in Seattle and Australia.

“It was a proud moment for the media,” said psychology professor David A. Jobes. “It was the first time in my memory that journalists who were covering a very high-profile celebrity suicide really did what the research community wanted them to do all along. It was the first widespread use… of warnings signs and hotline numbers and things that now are sort of matter-of-fact.”

Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell when loved ones are depressed and suicidal. Talinda Bennington, the widow of Chester Bennington, said that Chester Bennington seemed happy, playing and eating jellybeans with his family before his death.

Evonne Jones says that the person who is about to commit suicide may feel happy shortly before they are about to commit suicide because they have come to a point where they have accepted the fact that they are going to kill themselves at they are at peace with that.

“They have come to terms with the fact that they are about to take their lives and they feel like well ok this is it,” Jones said. “’This is what I am going to do. This is going to help me. This is going to end it all. This is going to end the pain.’ They are doing whatever they need to do now, spending time with their closest family and friends, saying their goodbyes, saying thank you in their own way before they actually take the side to attempt.”

It is important to recognize the signs of someone who is suicidal. According to the Harvard Health Blog, some signs that a person might be suicidal are increase speech about suicide, trying to figure out how to do it and getting a hold of things that will do just that, feeling hopeless, feeling worthless and guilty, giving away prized possessions and saying goodbye.

“I am hoping to start QPR and mental health first aid to students, faculty, and staff on campus, so everyone can have more of a trained eye,” Jones said. “If we suspect that someone is suicidal It is important that we be direct with them and ask, ‘Are you thinking of killing yourself?’”

Jones said if people become depressed or suicidal by celebrities’ suicides, they should reach out and get help, see a psychiatrist, participate in talk therapy, go out into nature and get in touch with their spiritual side and talk honestly with their friends and loved ones about what they are feeling and what they are going through.

Suicides can affect thousands of people, but by recognizing the signs before the person commits suicide and reporting celebrity suicides in a constructive way, we have the power to decrease suicide rates.