Despite outward appearances, famous suicides like these show us that we can never know what another person is going through — and sometimes not until it’s too late.
Too often headlines announce the death of a beloved actor, politician, or historical figure. Even darker so, sometimes the death comes at the person’s own hands. Each one of these 11 famous suicides has a unique personal story behind it, but many of them also have striking and sad similarities.
Nearly all of these celebrity suicides have featured mental health problems in some form. The famous suicides of American actresses like Marilyn Monroe, celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain, and designers like Kate Spade, show that being successful does not prevent a person from feeling unfulfilled or unhappy.
As macabre and heartbreaking as these 11 famous suicides are, they serve as an important reminder that even if you think everything about a person, underneath the surface they could believe that their life is worth nothing.
Famous Suicides: Robin Williams
His is not just one of the most famous suicides, but also one of the most baffling.
The death of comedian Robin Williams shocked the world in 2014. Known for his infectiously funny and good-natured personality, the loss of Williams left a lasting impact on Hollywood.
Born on July 21, 1951, in Chicago, Ill., Williams began his career as an improviser and stand-up comedian. He transitioned to television in the 1970s with his show Mork & Mindy which made him a household name.
Throughout his career, Williams played iconic roles in films like Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, and Dead Poets Society. Unfortunately, throughout his life, Williams also battled drug and alcohol addiction as well as severe depression.
In 2014, after a particularly rough period of time both personally and professionally, Williams was found dead in his California home on Aug. 11. In a statement released by his publicist on the day of his death, she revealed that Williams had “been battling severe depression of late.”
His wife also said that on top of dealing with depression, the comedian had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
A press release issued the day after his death revealed that he had died from “asphyxia due to hanging.” There was also a pocket knife discovered at the scene and several cuts were made on his left wrist.
For days after his death, a stream of fans of all ages came by the comedian’s home to lay flowers and pay tribute to the man who had given them so much joy.
His daughter, Zelda, spoke about the kind but troubled man the world adored, saying:
“He was always warm, even in his darkest moments. While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions.”