Suicide is one of the major causes of death in the world, with more than one suicide every 18 minutes in the USA. This constitutes more than 32,000 suicides. There is also one unsuccessful suicide attempt every sixty seconds in the US. Suicide has become, for persons under 65, the fourth leading cause of death in the US. Suicides happen in every demographic. There are, however, some high-risk groups. People with histories of mental health problems are more likely to suicide. A family history of suicide, or suicide among friends, may also increase the risk of suicide.
Artists, including all performers except comedians, are also in a high risk category. More women attempt suicide, usually using passive methods like pill overdoses, but more men are successful in that they use violent means such as a gun.
While some celebrity suicides are high profile, such as those of Marilyn Monroe and Kurt Cobain, becoming a significant part of their legend, most celebrities who kill themselves do so in a low-profile way.
Here are but a very few wonderful actors who went into the good night far too quietly. Many never had their suicides cited until long after their deaths
David Rappaport, actor, (TV’s The Wizard, Little Person activist/), self-inflicted gunshot.
Robert Young, actor (Father Knows Best, Marcus Welby MD), 4 attempted suicides, one mental hospitalization, alcoholism, clinical depression. While not technically a suicide, his death was considerably hastened by his record of mental illness and suicides.
Brian Keith, actor, (Family Affair, Hardcastle and McCormick), self-inflicted gunshot shortly after his only surviving child Daisy killed herself. Keith’s stepmom, Peg Entwistle, was the actress who killed herself by jumping off the Hollywood sign.
Ed Flanders, actor (won 3 Emmys plus four other nominations as Dr Westphall on Saint Elsewhere), self-inflicted gunshot
Writer/performance artist Spalding Gray (writer, performance artist) jumped to his death off the Staten Island Ferry.
Hervé Villechaize, actor (Tattoo, Fantasy Island), self-inflicted gunshot
Peter Duel, actor (Hannibal Heyes, Alias Smith and Jones), self-inflicted gunshot
Freddie Prinze, Sr., actor (Chico, Chico and the Man), self-inflicted gunshot
Jonathan Brandis (Lucas on Seaquest DSV), hung himself
Elizabeth Hartman (A Patch of Blue, The Beguiled), leapt to her death from a 5th floor apartment.
Brenda Benet, actress ( Lee, Days of Our Lives). self-inflicted gunshot
Brian Epstein, (manager, the man who discovered The Beatles), suicide by drug overdose
Margaret Sullavan, (actress, many films), suicide by drug overdose
Lupe Velez, (actress, many films), suicide method unknown
Let’s hope this list never grows longer. If you know someone who is in danger of suicide, expect the worst and seek help. Here are crisis center contacts:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
Canadian Crisis Centers http://www.suicideinfo.ca/csp/go.aspx?tabid=77
European Crisis Centers http://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/Europe/