Thursday, February 2, 2012


It's always sad to hear about a death by suicide.  Especially in the case where the person was living in pain from ill health or a compromised physical and mental state.  It's not a new road.  It's a well traveled one and suicide -- right or wrong -- becomes the solution to their problems.   Here is a list of some other notable suicide solutions.


Cornelius was a well known tv producer and creator of the syndicated dance/music show Soul Train.  Tavis Smiley was quoted as saying "he saved black culture."   He was a well respected icon that brought part of the black experience into the homes of Middle America.  Years later, significant health issues such as Dementia and Alzheimer's compounded his mental and physical disposition.  He shot himself in the head on February 1st, 2012 at the age of 75.


Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson was synonymous with the counter culture movement that believed you couldn't trust the man and that doing a copious amount of drugs and alcohol was an important aspect of personal freedom and self expression.  Sadly, in his advancing years, he came to accept that the wild lifestyle he led had -- in the end -- compromised his ability to write effectively.  This, with his other mounting health issues made his decision clear.  He shot himself in his office on February 20, 2005 at the age of 67.


Writer, actor, monologuist, Spalding Gray made a career out of explaining his physical ailments and profound neuroses onstage in one man shows like Swimming to Cambodia and The Monster in the Box.  His witty, hilarious style was so effective it made people forget that inside, Gray was a tortured man, unable to be free of the one thing he could not escape -- his physical body.  After being struck by a car, immobility and constant physical pain drove him into a depression.  So, on January 10, 2004, he went missing.  His body was later found in the East River.  It is believed that he jumped over the side of the Staten Island Ferry.  He was 62.  


Reinaldo Arenas was a Cuban born novelist, poet and playwright that fought against the Communist Cuban government.  He writings and his openly gay lifestyle in 60s Cuba put him squarely in sights of the government.  He was imprisoned more than once for his work and lifestyle and suffered profoundly at the hands of the Cuban government.  He fled to the United States in 1980, but he subsequently contracted HIV and found himself in a battle with AIDS during a time when it was still a horrible death sentence.  Understanding his fate, he chose to end his life on his own terms.  He took an overdose of pills on December 7, 1990.  He was 47.


Beloved TV actor Brian Keith was most well known for his portrayal of Uncle Bill in the 60's family sitcom A Family Affair.  He enjoyed a long and fruitful career in westerns, war films and television.  In the 80's he played a hip, yet cantankerous judge in the drama Hardcastle and McCormick.  His personal life, however, was less successful and surrounded by suicide. His step mother was actress Peg Entwhistle who killed herself by famously throwing herself off the H in the Hollywood sign.  In Keith's later years he suffered from lung cancer and emphysema.  He slipped into a depression.  Then on June 24, 1997, two days after his own daughter committed suicide, Keith shot himself in the head.  He was 75.


One of the more famous literary figures to commit suicide in the 20th century was Ernest Hemingway. A man's man, that lived a bold and storied life around the world, lived the stories that he told.  His time in Spain led to the writing of The Sun Also Rises.  His time as a fisherman led to The Old Man and the Sea.  He was truly an inspired individual who held court in Havana and was believed to be a spy for the CIA.  In 1952 while on safari in Africa, he survived a plane crash that left him in constant physical pain.  It seems, no life lived that exquisitely could be allowed to fizzle out.   He shot himself on July 2, 1961. He was 61.


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