Friday, August 1, 2014

Why Do Famous People Kill Themselves?

I was watching a special on Janis Joplin and how she was at the top of her fame when she killed herself with heroin. They found her wedged between a coffee table and a wall with a cigarette still in her hand.  And for some reason this question nagged me; why do famous people kill themselves? It is the American Dream to become rich and famous. To be a Rock Star or Movie Star has simply become the ultimate lottery of life. And for those who achieve this life becomes heaven on earth. So  the question nags us as we stand in line at the grocery store and read the headlines of the celebrity tabloids.

  This makes no sense to us as we worry about our jobs and make sure we have enough money for our groceries and drive for cheaper gas.  They have everything. They have fame. They have money. Yet we see in the news time and again the tragic story of another star who has died. The question remains from Marilyn Monroe to Phillip Seymour Hoffman: why do people who have everything the world can give find the urge to destroy themselves?
Our entire culture is geared toward this ultimate prize. Our reality shows tantalize us with the one in a million chance to become rich and famous. Sadly most do not. But a few do go on to touch the gold and then fall into obscurity. And then the chosen ones who make it enter the fabled kingdom and it seems it is not long before we are hearing stories of stints in rehab, personal life catastrophes, and then the final denouement…they are dead.

What is the lottery but a one in a million chance to at least be rich if not famous? This mega lottery if you will stands on the top of our age of Celebradom as Mecca. And we stare in wonder as we see our modern Gods on television and the movies and many go on and do lead lives that do no end up in the tabloids. But they do seem like the few. Our megastars more than not end up as legends through death. James Dean. Marilyn.  Jim Morrison.
 It is as if this is the final step in their career.

Books by William Hazelgrove