Celebrities, wittingly or unwittingly, open up their lives to the public. This means that even their most disturbed and darkest moments can, if discovered by the press, become tabloid fodder and public property. Indeed, there are some morbid stories out there about stars and their suicide attempts, including one reporting that Angelina Jolie allegedly paid someone to kill her, and a less sensational report from National Enquirer that the movie star once attempted suicide. False rumors of various stars’ suicide attempts and even deaths abound – this month, for example, there was a moment there when some of the world went into shock after a ridiculously false report that Oprah Winfrey was dead.
Suicide is not an issue to be made light of. It’s typically linked to depression which is not only a mental condition; it is also physical. When the brain’s synapses are not facilitating proper communication between the neurons involved in mood regulation, one’s entire being can give up, causing people to stop eating, sleep all day (or be unable to sleep) and shut the world right out by refusing to see friends and family. It’s a condition that has long been plagued by a stigma borne of ignorance about the disease, so it can be extremely hard for some to ask for help. No one is immune to this debilitating condition, and even with the most supportive network around some people find it almost impossible to go on when depressed. Health professionals regularly advise that it’s crucial for those suffering from depression to seek professional help.
Some of the most popular, influential and well-loved celebrities living today once succumbed to a depressive urge to try and end their lives but were – thankfully – unsuccessful. These celebs come from every area of showbiz and are widely varied personalities – but they all shared a common moment of desperation, and have all come back strong.
The rap artist born Marshall Bruce Mathers III has had nothing if not a rocky road. Born in Missouri, his father abandoned him in infancy. He and his mother moved around a lot, living in public housing or with relatives. His mother was, according to him, addicted to Valium, and later sued him for defamation, asking for $10 million. A judge granted only enough to cover legal fees. Eminem had a child with his high-school sweetheart, Kim. After his first solo album failed, Kim ended things and tried to prevent him from seeing his daughter. According to Fox News, this is when Eminem tried to take his own life by overdosing on Tylenol. The attempt fortunately failed and the couple reconciled and married. In the long run they divorced, remarried and divorced again.
9. Drew Carey
In September 2007, a month before his new role as host of the show The Price is Right, Nancy O’Dell of Access Hollywood interviewed Drew Carey. The comedian revealed that despite his success on the ABC shows The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line is it Anyway? as well as in other venues, he has battled with depression, especially in his teens and early twenties. In fact, he revealed having attempted suicide twice during that period, by overdosing on pills. Carey insinuated he still has to fight his demons, and credits the constant reading of any self-help book he can get his hands on with helping to make him stronger today.
8. Britney Spears
In 2008 scores of articles were written about allegations made by investigative journalist Ian Halperin (author of Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson) that Britney Spears had attempted suicide twice. According to Halperin (his unauthorized book still has not been published) he met with Spears several times, including at her house. The singer allegedly became suicidal in 2006 after the birth of her second child, Jayden, when it was clear her marriage with Kevin Federline, Jr. was failing. Britney is reported, by some sources, to have bipolar disorder. She definitely suffers from some mental disorder; as of last year Forbes noted a conservatorship was still in place to protect her from making irreparable financial decisions.
7. Tina Turner
Born Anna Mae Bullock in the southern US, Tina Turner received her stage name from bandmate and then husband, Ike Turner, in 1960. Ike and Tina were the perfect dynamic duo, touring and winning over crowds internationally. Unfortunately what the world did not, at first, know was that Ike had a major problem with drugs and alcohol, and that he also beat his wife so badly she once had to have her nose reconstructed. Not impervious to the physical and emotional torment that goes with being a battered woman, Tina tried committing suicide, reports The Biography Channel (UK). She finally left Ike after 14 years of marriage, in 1974, and never looked back. Turner, now 75, was a complete success without him.
6. Ozzy Osbourne
Lead singer of the former hard rock band Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne is an interesting personality, to say the least. He bit the head off a dove in front of Columbia execs, bit the head off a bat at a concert a few months later when it was thrown at him (he thought it was plastic, and had to get several rabies shots), and urinated on the Alamo. The message is pretty clear: nothing is sacred to this man, but he did hold a benefit once to replace the graffitied headstone of Black Sabbath’s original guitarist, Randy Rhoads. Rolling Stone’s Biography reports that Osbourne said his family had “a lot of insanity.” Osbourne also said he’d attempted suicide several times by age 14 “just to see what it would feel like.”
5. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore had a very difficult time growing up. Alcoholism ran rampant in her family, as did sex and drugs. Her famous grandfather, actor John Barrymore, died of cirrhosis of the liver at 60. Her actor father, a drug addict, was in and out of jail until he died. Her mother, an actress, was such a partier she took young Drew to nightclubs as early as age 8. Barrymore told the Daily Mail she was drinking by 9, had tried marijuana by 10 and cocaine by 12. Not surprisingly, she was in rehab by 13. At age 14, she tried to slit her wrists. Luckily she did not succeed. Not only has she cleaned up her act, she’s acted in some wonderful roles, has also directed and has a family of her own. She says that she’s now happier than ever, and we’re glad to hear it!
4. Owen Wilson
In August, 2007, Santa Monica police had several calls from Owen Wilson’s residence. The police report on the final call around noon on a Sunday read “Attempt suicide.” Fans (and neighbors) were shocked. Fans of the star think of him as the loveable, goofy guy from movies like Wedding Crashers and The Royal Tenenbaums. Wilson, who – according to Fox News – has a history of depression, co-wrote The Royal Tenenbaums with director Wes Anderson. It’s a film in which Richie Tenenbaum (played by Owen’s brother Luke) has a nervous breakdown and slits his wrists. It was Luke who discovered Wilson during his real-life suicide attempt, Owen having taken an overdose of pills and having slit one of his wrists.
3. Halle Berry
This stunning actress proves looks aren’t everything. Between 1993 and 1997 she was married to David Justice, then an MLB outfielder with the Atlanta Braves. People magazine cites an interview Berry did with Parade magazine in 2007 during which she stated that her self esteem was so wrapped up in her spouse that when their marriage failed she tried to kill herself by carbon monoxide poisoning. What saved her, she said, was an image at the last minute of her mother finding her. Berry is proof that hope springs eternal: Her second marriage also failed, and in that 2007 interview she swore she would never, ever remarry. We’re sure third husband Olivier Martinez is happy she recanted!
2. Elton John
British singer Elton John (that’s “Sir” Elton Hercules John) is openly gay and is married to longtime partner, David Furnish. This was not always the case — not only the marriage, but John’s openness about his homosexuality. Askmen.com recounts how Bernie Taupin, lyricist and friend to John, walked in on the singer with his head in the oven. John was engaged to be married to a woman, Linda Woodrow, and he couldn’t go through with things. Although a serious situation, Taupin recalls bursting into laughter; the oven gas was set on low, the kitchen windows were open, and the singer was resting his head inside the oven on a small pillow…
1. Oprah Winfrey
Talk-show host for a quarter century, publisher of a self-named magazine, and symbol of hope to girls and women everywhere, even Oprah is not immune to heartbreak. According to the Daily Mail, as a young production assistant Oprah met and fell in love with a radio DJ named Tim Watts. One night she followed him home and discovered he was married with children. Winfrey then allegedly wrote a suicide note to her best friend Gayle King and drove her car into a tree, in an attempt to kill herself. This was not the first time she had had suicidal thoughts. During an interview, Winfrey told Piers Morgan that while pregnant at 14 she considered ending things, even drinking detergent in an attempt to get rid of the baby.