There’s a moment in the famous movie Forrest Gump where Tom Hanks’s title character has been running back and forth across the country, gathering a following who saw him as some kind of guru to provide direction to their lives. He stops and they all stop, waiting to hear some kind of wisdom they would never be able to muster on their own. But all Forrest ends up saying is “I think I’m going to go home now.” Some are let down; others try to find the deeper meaning.
For some reason, we, as people, put a lot of stock into certain words people say at certain times. Be it a toast at a wedding or a eulogy for a loved one, we look for the profound, the moving, the comforting thoughts of others to fill the holes we somehow can’t. At no other time do we look more for someone to such holes more than when they’ve made the decision to kill themselves and leave a note behind.
We’re not going to editorialize on suicide. It’s a personal decision, and whether you think it’s a coward’s way out or a viable option in the face of no good choices, that’s up to you. What we find fascinating is how somebody can reach the point that ending it all seems like the best possible solution. Only 13-15 out of every 100,000 people make that choice according to the CDC. It’s truly a rare conclusion to reach.
It’s even rarer when somebody who has reached celebrity status decides to end his or her life and leaves a note, as many of those who commit suicide don’t. Sometimes, what celebrities have to say in their suicide notes is shocking. Here are 15 Chilling Celebrity Suicide Note Messages Revealed.
15. Freddie Prinze
Most people only know the name Freddie Prinze as the actor who played in a few teen films in the 1990s, landed the role of Fred in the Scooby-Doo movies, and somehow convinced Sarah Michelle Gellar to marry him, but that Freddie Prinze had a father who was an up-and-coming actor when he killed himself (leaving his infant son behind) in 1977. Known mainly for his role in NBC’s Chico and the Man, Prinze had signed a deal with NBC to develop his own show prior to his suicide. He had been suffering from depression and had recently been arrested for possession of drugs when his wife filed for divorce and for custody of their son. Apparently, this was too much for the 22-year-old comedian to deal with. He left a note, taking complete responsibility for his decision: “I must end it. There’s no hope left. I’ll be at peace. No one had anything to do with this. My decision totally.”
14. Kurt Cobain
The suicide of Nirvana’s lead singer is probably the most high-profile of the last 30 years. The singer was found a couple of days after he shot himself and took a high dose of valium (not to mention the heroin found in his system) by an electrician in 1994. His suicide note included a quick apology and an “I love you” to wife Courtney Love and daughter, Frances Bean, but 95% of it was an explanation, addressed to his childhood imaginary friend, Boddah. Cobain simply couldn’t imagine continuing moving forward in his own skin based on what he wrote: “I can’t stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I’ve become. I have it good, very good, and I’m grateful, but since the age of seven, I’ve become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along that have empathy. Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much, I guess.”
13. Kevin Carter
People often wonder how reporters and photographers can cover war-torn and ravaged areas and see famine, war, and death and not be affected. The truth is, many can’t. When they witness such horrors and have certain mental health issues or are going through difficult times themselves, the combination can be a recipe for disaster. Such was the case for Kevin Carter. No, you don’t know his name, but you might know his Pulitzer Prize-winning photography. The picture he shot of a vulture looking over the almost-dead body of a starving Sudanese child (shown above) won him the award just months before his suicide. In his note, he made reference to the fact that his personal life and professional life were both so low, he couldn’t cope any longer: “Sorry. The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist… depressed… I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain… of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners….”
12. Hunter S. Thompson
Known most famously as the writer of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and as the journalist who would get whacked out of his mind on drugs in the 1960s and 1970s and write about the experiences, Hunter S. Thompson spent the last couple decades writing for whoever would hire him and dealing with a variety of health issues. Once football season was over in 2005, he seemingly came to the conclusion that his usefulness had come to an end before shooting himself in the head. In his suicide note, he wrote, “No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your (old) age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”
11. George Eastman
While you may not recognize his name, George Eastman indirectly created more memories than any man of the last 100 years since he’s the guy who invented the film that went inside cameras. As co-founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, he brought photography to the mainstream. However, he also had a degenerative physical disorder which was passed on to him by his mother. He watched her suffer from the condition before eventually dying of it. As Eastman’s body similarly started to falter, and the pain increased, he didn’t want to put his family and friends through the anguish he felt watching his mother deteriorate, so on March 14, 1932, he shot himself in the heart. He left a note which read, “To my friends: My work is done. Why wait?” We find it only slightly ironic that the man who invented film that had to be sent to a lab for processing didn’t feel like waiting.
10. Lee Eun-ju
There were few actresses in South Korea who were on a hot streak like Lee Eun-ju. That’s why it was truly shocking when the 24-year-old committed suicide by slitting her wrists and hanging herself in her apartment. Her family said that she had a history of depression and mental illness. They said the final straw was that she couldn’t deal with the fact she had to perform nude scenes for an adaptation of The Scarlet Letter. She left two suicide notes. One was scrawled in blood, and it said, “Mom, I am sorry and I love you.” The other one may have shown the fact that she wasn’t in her right mind at the time of her death. Roughly translated, it said, “I wanted to do too much. Even though I live, I’m not really alive. I don’t want anyone to be disappointed. It’s nice having money… I wanted to make money.” She was posthumously nominated for the South Korean version of the Oscar for her role in The Scarlet Letter adaptation but didn’t win.
9. Clara Blandick
Few people know the name Clara Blandick, but just tell people “Auntie Em,” and everybody knows exactly who you’re talking about. In the 1950s, years after that role in The Wizard of Oz that cemented her a place in Hollywood history, her health started going downhill with arthritis and partial blindness rendering her mostly immobile. She returned from Church on Palm Sunday morning in April 1962 to her Los Angeles home and arranged her career memorabilia, including her press clippings, put on a beautiful blue gown, did up her hair, wrote a suicide note, then swallowed a bunch of sleeping pills, tied a plastic bag over head, and laid down on the couch. When she was found, her note read, “I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”
8. Peter Ham
Badfinger was a somewhat popular 1970s rock group, which had its biggest hit with the song “Baby Blue.” Peter Ham was the guitarist, vocalist, and one of the lead songwriters of the group. Badfinger probably would have been a much bigger band had it not been for a typical 1970s and 80s tale of their manager taking advantage of them financially. A rift was forming between the group and its record label, and Ham blamed their manager, Stan Polley. The rift got so bad, all communication was cut off, records stopped being made, shows stopped being booked, and money stopped coming in. So Polley stopped coming around. Ham grew despondent and hung himself in his garage three days before his 28th birthday in 1975. His suicide note read, “I will not be allowed to love and trust everybody. This is better. P.S. Stan Polley is a soulless bastard. I will take him with me.” Polley died of natural causes in 2003.
7. Virginia Woolf
Sometimes, it seems like people are just too delicate and not built for this world. Author Virginia Woolf certainly seems like one of those people. Despite being a strong, independent woman for her time, mental issues plagued her life. Part of her suicide note read, “I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do.” The note ended on a sad note, specifically addressed to her husband, Leonard, who was said to be very patient with her mental issues. She wrote to her husband, “Everything has gone for me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.”
6. Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing
It’s not hard to imagine that Michael Jackson and The Beatles would fall onto most experts’ lists as the most iconic musicians of all time worldwide. Who is number three, though? Elvis? Madonna? According to a 2010 CNN list, it was Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, considered the founding father of Cantonese pop. The Hong Kong musician and actor committed suicide by jumping from the 24th floor of a hotel. While his family knew that he’d been suffering from depression for about a year, it came as a complete shock to fans, and the suicide note probably didn’t help things because it seemed more like an award acceptance speech and read more like he was just having a bad day. “Depression! Many thanks to all my friends. Many thanks to Professor Felice Lieh-mak. This year has been so tough. I can’t stand it anymore. Many thanks to Mr. Tong. Many thanks to my family. Many thanks to Sister Fei. In my life I did nothing bad. Why does it have to be like this?”
5. George Sanders
If you’re a fan of old movies, you probably recognize George Sanders as he played the smart, sophisticated villain in most of his well-known roles in some of Hollywood’s most classic films like All About Eve, where he was the nasty Addison DeWitt. For those a little younger who grew up watching the original Disney version of The Jungle Book from 1967, Sanders was the voice of the tiger Shere Khan. He was found dead in a hotel room at the age of 65 in 1972, and his death might have been ruled a heart attack if not for the five bottles of barbiturates and the suicide note he left, which sounds like it was written by a Hollywood villain. Sanders’s parting thoughts to the people of Earth were: “Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.”
4. Stefan Zweig
His name probably isn’t well-known to most, but Stefan Zweig was one of the brightest writers of his time, although he was forced into exile by the Nazis. He was outspoken about his belief that Austria would only thrive with a multicultural humanism, which obviously stood in stark contrast to the kind of ideology espoused by Hitler and company. Filmmaker Wes Anderson has said that Zweig’s work has been the inspiration for his films to the point he has stolen from him. Zweig was chased from Austria to England, but fearing for his life, escaped with his wife to Brazil. In February 1942, feeling despondent over the state of the world, he and his wife took an overdose of barbiturates and were found dead in their bed, hand-in-hand. He said he just didn’t have the energy to keep going: “To start everything anew after a man’s 60th year requires special powers, and my own power has been expended after years of wandering homeless. I thus prefer to end my life at the right time, upright, as a man for whom cultural work has always been his purest happiness and personal freedom — the most precious of possessions on this earth.”
3. Wendy O. Williams
When you think about punk rockers of the 1970s, it probably seems like suicide would be right up their alley. Wendy O. Williams, lead singer of the Plasmatics and who was known to another generation of fans as the antagonist of the cult classic women-in-prison movie Reform School Girls, somewhat played into that stereotype. But she was an animal rehabilitator at the time of her decision in 1998 and left probably one of the most eloquent notes when she died. Sadly, it had been her third suicide attempt in a life marred by depression. She rationalized her decision to those who cared, writing in her note, “I don’t believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time. I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have. For me, much of the world makes no sense, but my feelings about what I am doing ring loud and clear to an inner ear and a place where there is no self, only calm.”
2. Herve Villechaize
One of the things that scare actors to death is making it so big in one iconic role that they can’t escape it for the rest of their career. This often happens with child stars, but for Herve Villechaize, the little person who played Tattoo on Fantasy Island in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a similar fate befell him. Known for his signature “The plane! The plane!” line and white tuxedo from the opening scenes of every episode, the diminutive actor couldn’t get work once the show went off the air and turned to drugs to deal with his depression, although his beautiful wife, Kathy, always stood by his side. While he was deeply in debt when he died, the only thing that mattered to Villechaize was the love of his wife. His goodbye is as much a love note as anything else, as he wrote, “Kathy, I can’t live like this anymore. I’ve always been a proud man and always wanted to make you proud of me. You know you made me feel like a giant and that’s how I want you to remember me. I’m doing what I have to do.”
1. Per Ohlin
Per Ohlin was better known by his eerily accurate stage name of “Dead” and was the vocalist for a Swedish death metal band Mayhem. His name will sometimes pop up in the lower part of lists of the Top 100 heavy metal frontmen of all time. Ohlin’s fascination with death and suicide seemed like an Alice Cooper-esque act but proved to be much more when he finally performed the deed in 1993. His management used his death to push the band, which split the heavy metal community — some saying he would have loved it while others saying under the leather and makeup, there was actually a guy who was hurting inside. His note leaves it up to interpretation as even that is heavy on the theatrics: “Excuse the blood, but I have slit my wrists and neck. It was the intention that I would die in the woods so that it would take a few days before I was possibly found. I belong in the woods and have always done so. If I don’t succeed dying to the knife I will blow all the @#$% out of my skull.”