Depression And Suicide: Understanding Celebrity Suicides, Tackling Depression And Loneliness

Depression And Suicide: Understanding Celebrity Suicides, Tackling Depression And Loneliness

I have to open by acknowledging that 2020 has not been a ride in the park for anyone. And I understand everyone feels occupied and in a dilemma of what is to happen next. I know you feel that way. I feel the same. Now let us leave it here. Today we are going to talk about something else; depression, loneliness, and celebrity suicides.

In less than a month, suicide has robbed us of more than 10 young and promising celebrities. From sportsmen and sportswomen, TV personalities to actors and actresses. The most recent are marked by the demise of Actress Caroline Flack at the age of 40, pro-wrestler Hannah Kimura 22 who was found suspending at her room, Hollywood actor Gregory Tyree Boyce 30 found unresponsive with his girlfriend, Baskets Actor Hagen Mills, 30 just to mention but a few. The most recent is the case successful Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, 34 who is described by many as ‘all smiles’ and always willing to help whenever one would reach to him.

Sushant Singh Rajput was found lifeless at his Mumbai home on June 14: gettyimages 

Sushant Singh Rajput, 34 was found lifeless at his Mumbai home on June 14: Gettyimages

While this has brought attention in the public eye to focus on mental health issues including depression, this has been happening and is no new sport. Mid last year a fashion designer and entrepreneur Kate Spade, and TV host and chef Anthony Bourdain also committed suicide. 

But Why Celebrity Suicide?

Well, suicide is not a new issue, and especially not in celebrity spheres. The suicide cases from celebrities hitting our timelines are not limited to the line of work. They range from politicians, CEOs, writers, musicians, actors, sports-persons, and designers.

The fact that people look up to these individuals as role models and as the crème-de-la-crème of the society in terms of wealth, lifestyle, skills, and fame; and yet they decide to take their own life need to be accessed. But I know you may still be asking yourself; why would they want to take their own life when they have everything anyone would wish for?

Why?

This is the question in the lips among the majority of people left behind by a suicide victim. However, the answer to this question may never make sense to everyone who proclaims to be a lover of life.

Hagen Mills shot himself at the age of 29 on May 21

Hagen Mills shot himself at the age of 29 on May 21: gettyimages

According to past research done on suicides, the reports suggest that the causes are not always mental health issues such as bipolar, schizophrenia, or depression. Even if there are still several cases of suicides that are related to these three conditions; depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, it is not universal to the three conditions.

An individual with no underlying mental health issue is not always suicidal, in the same case a stressed or depressed individual is not always suicidal.  In most cases, suicides are associate with emotional pain regardless of the source of pain.

Celebrity Suicides

Human motivation needs are divided into five categories according to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The most basic is the physical needs and also known as the fundamental rights, followed by safety, affection, self-esteem need, and lastly self- actualization needs. Most of the recorded celebrity suicide deaths are from the most established celebrities. but wait, are they not happy with what they have accomplished?

What Defines Happiness?

Happiness does not come with wealth, fame, or all the accomplished material things that one may possess. The most important factor in a healthy life and mind would be relationships; which is the third category of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Research has shown marital healthy relationships have proved to ease physical pain. this translated strong relationships may lessen emotional pain that may lead to damaged such as self-harm and suicides.

Chronic Loneliness

Loneliness is strong as an addiction to alcohol and drugs. It is fatal. From the fatalities from suicide that I have been following lately, almost all the family and friends who talk about it mention loneliness as the main culprit.

Rob Shuter, who is the former publicist to Kate Spade in an interview at Extra TV said, “Kate was isolated and lonely. Toward the end of her life, she had a housekeeper, she had her assistant and her child, and I think that was pretty much it. Kate didn’t have many friends.”

Kate Spade found dead at her house at age 55 from suicide: gettyimages 

The loneliness phenomena do not shy away from color, gender, wealth, or the most famous. Most celebrities are known to have limited to no friends while others have come openly in public stating how alone they are in real life.

 

Suicide: The Anguish Of Loneliness

The records from WHO states that in every 40 seconds we lose a life to suicide on a global scale, which amounts to around 800,000 deaths annually. Sounds horrifying, right. And it is said that only 1% of these deaths hit our headlines and there is little to nothing that is done about this global ‘marvel’, which is among, the top 20 causes of death globally.

Everyone goes through these moments in life where you feel emotionally isolated, other times you feel the need to connect to people, the urge to be understood, a notion of solitude and even the despair to be surrounded by people. It is very normal to feel this way and nature has designed us to respond and react differently to these feelings. Some will call and facetime friends and family, others run to the countryside others engage in activities that will release adrenaline and somehow make them forget for a while, but for how long?

Caroline Flack, Actress and TV personality took her own life at 40 on Feb 18

Caroline Flack, Actress and TV personality took her own life at 40 on Feb 18

We all love to claim that, ‘no man is an island’ which is the revolutionary truth. But how many people in your contact list can you reach whenever you need to open up? How many can reach you when they need someone to talk to? When you possibly answer the two questions, then you will be in a position to differentiate between perceived isolation and objective isolation. And quickly understand that perceived isolation is loneliness. 

Loneliness itself is like hunger, or thirst, or jobless, we do not have the opposite of this, it is either you are hungry or not hungry, jobless or you have a job. With the pandemic now, that is making the sense of isolation come to reality making the situation even worse.

 

Mental Health Issues

All the above mentioned do not rule out mental health problems as one of the factors for suicidal thoughts and acts. In most cases, depression contributes to self-harm behaviors and suicidal thoughts. Others include chronic anxiety, schizophrenia, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use, etc are some other factors that could lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

The most established celebrities are more prone to depression, chronic anxiety, and loneliness due to isolation and now, online trolls from the public.

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