“Even when you died; Oh the press still hounded you; All the papers had to say; Was that Marilyn was found in the nude.” — Elton John’s tribute to Marilyn Monroe, Candle in the Wind.

Quick: When you think of Robin Williams, what immediately comes to mind?

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Good Will Hunting?

Mrs. Doubtfire?

Good Morning, Vietnam?

Or his inexplicable suicide this week (after he first tried to slice his wrists … Thanks TMZ) by hanging?

Wasn’t there a suicide at the end of Dead Poets Society?

The Ultimate Negative Story to be Exploited

As singer Elton John (and lyricist Bernie Taupin) correctly surmised in his Candle in the Wind about Norma Jeane Mortenson (a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe), the digital and conventional media critics will always seize on the negative, even the ultimate negative: Death.

When one thinks of Kurt Cobain what comes first flashing? Nirvana?  Or how he blew out his brains with a shot-gun.

Brian Jones? Rolling Stones guitarist? Or drowning and/or murder?

Judy Garland? The Wizard of Oz? Or her self-administered overdose of barbiturates?

Marilyn Monroe: Happy Birthday, Mr. President? Or another case of self-administered overdose of barbiturates?

American Masters: Marilyn Monroe

And now, Robin Williams. There will be no more movies. No more humor. No more humanitarian acts. No more, no more … except for the TMZ crowd and countless others, the mental images of his hanging.

Depression and Drugs

Many will delve into the reasoning behind the decision by Robin Williams to take his own life. Cocaine and alcohol were an on-and-off presence during the course of his adult life. And there was the disease of Depression, which afflicts an estimated 16 million Americans.

What cannot be rationalized comes in the form of the media-taken aerial images of his pad in gorgeous Marin County Tiburon overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island and ultimately the City by the Bay on a beautiful day. He seemingly had it all … fame, fortune, accolades … and now there will be no more.

The likes of Robin Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones and many other celebrities who took their lives and/or lived way too close to the edge with drugs/alcohol (usually part of all of these stories) will always be remembered for more than their tragic end.

For the 12.7 out of 100,000 Americans or the 39,518 who took their own lives in 2011 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most likely very few people knew them let alone appreciated the demons that were obviously part of their respective lives. Another 713,000 were taken to emergency rooms in the same year as a result of “self-inflicted injury.”

And how will most of those who take their own lives be remembered? By how they died: 19,900 by firearms (e.g., Cobain); 9,913 by suffocation (e.g., Williams) and 6,564 by poisoning (e.g., Garland and Monroe).

Covering the Consummate Self-Destructive Act?

For the famous and non-famous alike there will be a service, a eulogy, readings, a celebration of life, an internment or the scattering of ashes by those left behind. Family and friends are sorry. They are confused. They may feel guilty. They are in many cases, embarrassed. In many respects they are victims of the consummate self-destructive act.

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Did any of them consider their own reputation before they fired the gun, tied the noose, and took the pills? For the rich and famous did they contemplate how the most sensational of the conventional and digital media would cover their self-inflicted demise? Do they even care?

Did any of them … famous or not famous … weigh the impact of their suicides on their families and friends?

Did any of them contemplate that others may want to follow their path to the grave in the same egregious way?

The most important public relations are personal public relations, even in the last seconds of life.

And how will they be ultimately remembered, particularly those who attained celebrity? By the last act.

He shot himself.

She overdosed on drugs.

He hung himself.

Do any of us really want to be remembered this way, particularly with the prospect of glaring digital and/or conventional headlines about our self-inflicted death?

http://www.tmz.com/2014/08/12/robin-williams-death-autopsy-suicide-hanging-news-conference/?adid=hero1

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/11/robin-williams-dead-dies_n_5670050.html

http://www.tmz.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candle_in_the_Wind

http://www.eltonography.com/songs/candle_in_the_wind.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Williams

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Cobain

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Garland

http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/celebrity/brian_jones/index.html

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm

http://www.webmd.com/depression/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katie-hurley/theres-nothing-selfish-about-suicide_b_5672519.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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