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Why do movie stars commit suicide?


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I know this may be a morbid topic for some, but after today's airing of MEXICAN SPITFIRE'S BLESSED EVENT on TCM, I started to read up on Lupe Velez's personal life.  I knew she had died shortly after this film, and she was still in her thirties.  Ironically, this final Spitfire entry is about her character pretending to be pregnant.  And in real life, Velez was pregnant when she killed herself.

 

Velez's suicide reminded me of Carole Landis' death just a few short years later, under similar circumstances.  Landis was also pregnant and unmarried and unable to marry the father of her unborn child, like Velez.

 

I am not saying that actresses commit suicide more than actors.  But I am wondering if this profession has a higher suicide rate than other lines of work.

 

Thoughts...?

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Celebrities in general ride a lot of emotional highs and lows, something the rest of us seldom have to deal with.  One day you're much loved and popular and the next day you're old news.  No one goes to see your new movie or buy your new record, etc. The gals especially have to cope with the "loss" of their youth and beauty and are quickly discarded by the public. Its not hard to believe there's a lot of insecurity issues here.  People can easily fall into deep depression and at a weak moment make regrettable choices.

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I don't think it's a coincidence that the stars who try to separate their private lives from their public lives also seem to do the best job of growing old.  I'm thinking along the lines of Stanwyck, Newman/Woodward, Ryan, Widmark, Katharine Hepburn, and others who treated their work as a craft, and didn't play up to the gossip columnists and paparazzi in an attempt to keep getting their names in the paper.

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Brian Keith did himself in at an advanced age, and though I never read anywhere of the reason why, I think it was due to having some incurable illness that would put him through agony.

 

Yes, why does anyone commit suicide?  I don't think there's any one set reason.  A TMI:  I once considered it myself, and to this day I couldn't tell you why.

 

Sepiatone

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Brian Keith had much sadness in his life. When his son was a child he died. 2 months before Brian Keith committed suicide his 27 year old daughter had committed suicide. He was suffering from emphysema and terminal lung cancer when he committed suicide. His being an actor probably didn't have much to much to do with his suicide. Sounds more like his life was so full of tragedy and sadness.

 

George Sanders took his own life, and confided to David Niven that he would end his life in later years. His mother and brother had passed away before this and he wrote in a note that he was just bored with life.

 

In both cases, I don't think being an actor had much to do with their suicides.

 

 

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It is my understanding that the highest suicide rate by profession worldwide is: pediatric oncologists. I have spent rotations in those wards and so it is sad to say that I understand well why the rate of suicide and depression is so very high. It is very difficult to maintain professional detachment when you are aware that the treatment you administered to save the patient's life was likely a contributing factor in development of necrotizing fasciitis. I was at a loss to comfort a four-year-old girl whose skin was being eaten away after she was told the medicines would make her all better. 

 

I have read that the suicide rate in the medical professions is twice as high as any other group.

 

I doubt that actors/actresses have a high suicide rate. The perception that it is high is because of media exposure. A significant factor may be also that physicians are discrete and will tell the family a different cause of death if it can be made to sound reasonable but the official records will be publicized if the deceased was as high-profile as an actor/actress.

 

I can not state with surety and I have no statistics at hand but I believe that pregnant women have a slightly higher suicide rate than normal but it is not as high as for women suffering postpartum depression. 

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There doesn't seem to be any one reason for this type of tragedy.  I'm sure that many stars feel that their worth is tied to their popularity.  Remember Elizabeth Hartman?  She got off to a tremendous start, getting a Best Actress nomination for "Patch of Blue."  She never ever came close to matching the fame from that movie.  She threw herself out of a window, very disillusioned and depressed.  And there are so any others, each with his or her own story.  One would think that someone as talented and beautiful as Pier Angeli would have everythibng she wanted.  But she led an unhappy and unfulfilled life. 

 

Terrence.

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It is my understanding that the highest suicide rate by profession worldwide is: pediatric oncologists. I have spent rotations in those wards and so it is sad to say that I understand well why the rate of suicide and depression is so very high. It is very difficult to maintain professional detachment when you are aware that the treatment you administered to save the patient's life was likely a contributing factor in development of necrotizing fasciitis. I was at a loss to comfort a four-year-old girl whose skin was being eaten away after she was told the medicines would make her all better. 

 

I have read that the suicide rate in the medical professions is twice as high as any other group.

 

I doubt that actors/actresses have a high suicide rate. The perception that it is high is because of media exposure. A significant factor may be also that physicians are discrete and will tell the family a different cause of death if it can be made to sound reasonable but the official records will be publicized if the deceased was as high-profile as an actor/actress.

 

I can not state with surety and I have no statistics at hand but I believe that pregnant women have a slightly higher suicide rate than normal but it is not as high as for women suffering postpartum depression. 

Very sensible post Sans, I agree. I don't believe that actors and actresses have a higher suicide rate than any other group. As far as professions go I can see where doctors dealing with devastating diseases would have a higher rate of suicides.

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I agree with that, Lavender.  I have a niece who went into pro natal nursing because she "loves" babies and wanted to help, but mostly because, as she stated, "You could clear 100K a year!"  She didn't last that year.  She got tired of going home at the end of each shift crying, so now she works with a general practitioner.

 

Sepiatone

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It is my understanding that the highest suicide rate by profession worldwide is: pediatric oncologists. I have spent rotations in those wards and so it is sad to say that I understand well why the rate of suicide and depression is so very high..

Many years ago, and I cannot recall where I read this, the top profession for suicides was Dentistry. Surveys of the population revealed the majority of people really did not like going to dentists - for any reason. Dentists were associated with great pain and discomfort.. practically no good feelings were attached to the experience of a dental visit. Remaining dentists polled revealed many of them were greatly affected by the way people viewed them and so many cases of depression and suicide developed.

 

That has changed. I believe a list of most depressing professions I read last year

actually had Firefighter in the Top 5 !!

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Many years ago, and I cannot recall where I read this, the top profession for suicides was Dentistry. 

 

I have read that that was an urban legend  It was reported as such on a popular situation comedy and so became entrenched. The suicide rate for physicians is traditionally slightly higher than that for dentists. I know that the suicide rate of veterinarians is slightly less than that for dentists. The medical professions are unique in that the suicide rate for women is traditionally as high as for men. The suicide rate for women in all other professions is considerably less than for men. 

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As far as professions go I can see where doctors dealing with devastating diseases would have a higher rate of suicides.

 

I have read that a factor of possible significance is that people in medical professions are more likely to do it properly. I believe that the rate of unsuccessful suicide attempts is far lower than for any other profession. 

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Margaret Sullavan: suicide

Brian Keith: suicide

Freddie Prinze: suicide

 

I'm sure that there are more in the Industry who took their own lives, but I had no idea about ppl in the medical profession having the highest suicide rate. I always thought that police officers had the highest suicide rate; they also have a very high divorce rate as well as that of alcoholism and drug use.

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I have read that that was an urban legend  It was reported as such on a popular situation comedy and so became entrenched.

 

That was an episode from the series "Barney Miller". Probably because the gag was spoken by the all-knowing Dietrich character (played by Steve Landesberg), people actually believed there was something to it.

 

Doctors and nurses (especially in certain fields, as you indicated) and cops are known to exceed gen pop suicides. Show business suicide is reported upon, leading to the erroneous belief that it's more prevalent than usual. It's not.

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I have read that that was an urban legend  It was reported as such on a popular situation comedy and so became entrenched. The suicide rate for physicians is traditionally slightly higher than that for dentists. I know that the suicide rate of veterinarians is slightly less than that for dentists. The medical professions are unique in that the suicide rate for women is traditionally as high as for men. The suicide rate for women in all other professions is considerably less than for men. 

 

The medical profession has full access to all the best/easiest painless suicide drugs.

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The site which I found with the latest available data and most diverse data set is:

They used Center for Disease Control - National Occupational Mortality Surveillance data. The NOMS database can be accessed directly but that is not a thing to be done quickly or with confidence if you are not familiar with the system.
 

Profession - Times More Likely to Commit Suicide than Average

 
For white males: 
Physicians - 1.87 times
Dentists - 1.67 times
Veterinarians - 1.54 times
 
For white females:
Physician - 2.78 times
Sales - 2.43 times
Law enforcement - 2.03 times
 
For black males:
Law Enforcement - 2.55 times
Furnace Operators - 2.01 times
Electricians - 1.78 times
 
For black females:
Protective service - 2.78 times
Sales - 2.00 times
Packaging - 1.96 times
 
The best data I could find of Law Enforcement in general per CDC/NOMS data is: 1.52 times. 
 
I could find no unbiased recent data for entertainers. They are not represented in any authoritative list of top ten professions.
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That was an episode from the series "Barney Miller". Probably because the gag was spoken by the all-knowing Dietrich character (played by Steve Landesberg), people actually believed there was something to it.

 

I believe that the general impression of the high rate of suicide by dentists may be at least partly due to the appearance of depression. Dentists at all times look down in the mouth.

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I believe that the general impression of the high rate of suicide by dentists may be at least partly due to the appearance of depression. Dentists at all times look down in the mouth.

I was going to inject some light humor here, but I thought we were taking this seriously and backed off.. and now look what you've done. Just look at yourself! That's it! Take a few steps back and look at yourself .. in that full-length antique mirror you just paid $10 for at the yard sale just outside of town. I must say..

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Just look at yourself! That's it! Take a few steps back and look at yourself

 

I am sorry to say that I do not understand your comment. I find my aspect quite pleasing. The silly grin does wonders for my appearance.

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I am sorry to say that I do not understand your comment. I find my aspect quite pleasing. The silly grin does wonders for my appearance.

I had hoped you would see the humor in my comments. I was trying to be funny, in a subtle way. I see our senses of humor are not compatible. I will refrain from further comedy. I will go now.

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I had hoped you would see the humor in my comments. I was trying to be funny, in a subtle way. I see our senses of humor are not compatible. I will refrain from further comedy. I will go now.

 

I had hoped that you would see the humor in my last comment. I meant it to mean that I feel very good about myself when I can slip in a zinger.

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I had hoped you would see the humor in my comments. I was trying to be funny, in a subtle way. I see our senses of humor are not compatible. I will refrain from further comedy. I will go now.

 

Don't worry, Kid. We knew you were jesting.

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