Celebrity suicides teach us that people have hidden lives that they often do not show to the public. This causes people to be shocked by the death of a celebrity who seemed happy, rich, and content. It also reveals the stigma associated with the exposure of and assistance for people suffering from depression. We can learn from these public episodes of death by seeing how happiness can be deceiving so that we can discover ways to cultivate true inner peace.

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Obsession with Celebrity Suicide

With the recent death of celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade, it is again clear that the public likes to contemplate depression only when someone famous takes their own life. This may be due to the pedestal that our culture places celebrities. We see them as gods; we envy them and want to be like them. So, when tragedy strikes it sets off alarms, and we begin to ask questions about the mental state of someone who looked well on the outside but suffered internally. Instead of focusing on the accomplishments of their life, the media concentrates on their disguised sadness. Should their death define them, and should we pretend that celebrities are the only ones depressed?

It should be acknowledged that according to Globe and Mail, about 3,000 people die each day from suicide. Yet, we do not question why until someone on TV takes their life. Should society be that perplexed that a celebrity could possess depression when so many “normal” people endure a state of unhappiness?

A Societal Problem

Erasing the stigma of depression can start with learning from celebrity suicides. These deaths show that it is not money, fame, or popularity that cures internal pain; it is something much deeper. The mental state of our culture has been in a downward spiral through materialistic accumulation and depleting social support. We consistently promote physical well being through eating healthy, exercising, and seeing health care providers. Yet, we do not focus on our mental state or even address it as part of overall health. Those with mental health problems are cast aside as a minority when, in fact, the majority of people need to improve the condition of their mental health.

Finding a Solution

Instead of waiting until another celebrity commits suicide, we need to address the problem of depression now. To encourage people to get help, we must first make mental rehabilitation and exercise a part of normal healthcare. We can use celebrities as an extreme example of how difficult it is to be our true selves. Expressing individualism should be the core of our learning process. Also, healing wounds, especially from childhood abuse and trauma, can greatly limit the chances of prolonged depression in adulthood. Finally, spiritual outlets should not be scrutinized as fringe practices. Learning to look inside ourselves for guidance is the best medicine as the self knows better than anyone.

Depression is more common than we think, yet it has not been fully addressed as an epidemic that needs a solution. We can learn from celebrity suicides as they provide of with proof that people still hide their unhappiness at the cost of their own life.