10 Celebrities Who Tried to Take Their Own Lives


In 2010 the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention stated that suicide ranked as the tenth most frequently occurring cause of death in America, with over 38,300 cases reported. Suicide rates have been slowly rising since the turn of the millennium, and although there is no definitive data on attempted suicides, hospitals across the nation reported almost 465,000 cases of injury owing to self-harm in 2010.

Usually, there will be warning signs when someone is thinking of taking their own life. In 50 to 75 percent of cases, people make their suicidal intentions known to others first. By becoming a counselor, you may be able to help those who feel so unhappy and trapped that they are considering carrying out this most desperate of acts. Below, we list ten celebrities who at some stage felt that suicide was the only way out – but who managed to survive to lead fulfilling lives.

10. Tina Turner


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Legendary rocker Tina Turner (real name Anna Mae Bullock) was born in Tennessee in 1939. She had a troublesome childhood, having been abandoned by her mother at the age of ten and by her father when she was 13. Turner and her older sister were then brought up in the care of their cousins and grandmother. In 1956 Turner met her future husband, Ike, and began performing with his band, The Kings of Rhythm; the pair tied the knot in 1962. Yet although the popular couple were a hit on stage, Ike’s off-stage behavior became abusive, and Turner eventually required surgery on her nose to correct the damage from numerous beatings.

In 1969, before going on stage in Los Angeles, Turner ingested 50 Valium tablets in an attempt to end her own life; thankfully, she was unsuccessful and left the marriage seven years later. Turner rose to fame again with eight studio albums and achieved numerous solo hits – including the multiple Grammy award-winning “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” She announced her semi-retirement in 2000.

9. Judy Garland


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When Fred Astaire dubbed Judy Garland “the greatest entertainer who ever lived,” he may not have known that at one point Garland no longer wanted to live. The actress was born in 1922 and first set foot on stage as a two-year-old child. By 1935 she was signed up with MGM. It was during her movie career that Garland was first prescribed a mix of medications to control practically everything, including her weight, her energy and her sleeping patterns. The young performer’s grueling workdays made it possible for her to star in multiple movies a year, but her lifestyle took a toll on her wellbeing. Garland apparently attempted suicide twice: in 1947, after a nervous breakdown, she tried cutting her wrists with a shattered glass and had to spend time in a psychiatric institution; then in 1950 she sliced her throat with another broken glass. Garland said of the second incident, “I wanted to black out the future as well as the past. I wanted to hurt myself and everyone who had hurt me.”

Yet despite her problems, the Wizard of Oz actress went on to achieve even more stardom. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in A Star is Born, booked a sell-out concert tour in the U.K. and showed up in various television specials. Garland died in June 1969 after accidentally overdosing on barbiturates.

8. Vanilla Ice


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Onetime one-hit wonder Vanilla Ice fell out of the limelight soon after his 1989 song “Ice Ice Baby” left the radio waves. His days of fame, including a brief relationship with pop megastar Madonna, were coming to an end. And this caused the rapper – born Rob Van Winkle in 1967 – to spiral downwards. He started taking a lot of drugs, and in July 1994 he tried to commit suicide by overdosing on heroin.

After being saved by friends, he used his new chance to transform himself. He took a musical hiatus to pursue competitive jet skiing and met his future bride a year following his brush with death. And as a symbol of his life path change, he had a leaf tattooed on his belly. Vanilla Ice returned to music in the late ‘90s, releasing more albums before making the foray into reality TV – where he’s starred in series such as The Surreal Life, U.K. show Dancing on Ice and The Vanilla Ice Project.

7. Drew Carey


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Drew Carey has dabbled in a little bit of everything. He’s had his own sitcom, The Drew Carey Show, presented Whose Line Is It Anyway?, and was selected to fill the coveted role of Price is Right host after Bob Barker’s departure. Yet Carey owes his successes in part to the lessons he learned following two suicide attempts.

The future celebrity was born in 1958 and was sexually assaulted as a child. In his youth, he battled with depression, and he tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pills at age 18 and once more when he was in his 20s. Nevertheless, Carey has since revealed that he found inspiration on how to live again by reading motivational books. “I learned how to believe in myself. Learned how to set goals, you know, self-help books,” he said. “I just read every single one I can get a hold of and I still do. I read that stuff all the time still. I am always coming out bigger, better, stronger and happier.”

6. Sinéad O’Connor


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Born in 1969, Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor is perhaps best known for her 1990 version of the Prince-penned song “Nothing Compares 2 U.” O’Connor has never been afraid to speak her mind and has repeatedly grabbed the headlines through actions such as defending the Provisional IRA, tearing up an image of the Pope while on live television, and publicly offering advice to Miley Cyrus. Still, in 1999 the public was stunned when it was revealed that O’Connor had attempted suicide by ingesting 20 Valium pills, just before the custody battle over her daughter came to an end. What is more, O’Connor – who has bipolar disorder – overdosed on pills again in 2012. Fortunately, the singer subsequently told her Twitter followers that she was going to begin taking her medication again and was doing “much better.”

5. Richard Pryor


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Richard Pryor is widely recognized as a pioneering voice in the world of comedy. However, although he eventually rose to win Grammy awards as well as an Emmy, Pryor had a dark past – plus recurring troubles throughout his life. He was born in 1940 and was raised in the brothel his grandmother ran and where his mother worked as a prostitute. His grandmother physically abused him, and a local teenager raped him; later, a Catholic priest sexually assaulted him, too. Pryor also had a long-standing drug problem. In 1980 he set himself alight after smoking crack cocaine – an incident he has publicly affirmed was a suicide attempt. Burns covered over 50 percent of Pryor’s body, but he recovered and continued with his career until the multiple sclerosis he was diagnosed with in 1986 rendered him unable to work further. He died in 2005.

4. Jack Osbourne


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Jack Osbourne was born in 1985, and with a rock icon father and a family who starred in their own reality TV show, he is certainly an individual who is used to fame. However, Osbourne’s spotlight dimmed when he was only 17 years old, at a time when he was struggling with alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and his mother being diagnosed with colon cancer. In 2002 Osbourne’s depression became so severe that he combined taking a mix of the prescription drugs OxyContin and Valium with slicing his hands using pieces of glass. Despite surviving his suicide attempt, Osbourne carried on taking drugs, until he recognized how badly he was faring. “I knew I needed help,” he said. “I was like, ‘OK, I will do this.’” He went to rehab in Malibu and has stated that he never wishes to return there again. Since then, he has had a baby girl, and he also got married in 2012.

3. Billy Joel


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It may seem crazy now, but music legend Billy Joel once believed he was a failure. Joel was born in 1949 and started learning music while in his youth, but when he was 21, his life quickly seemed to unravel. His relationship with a girl ended at the same time as things began to fall through with his heavy metal band, Attila. Joel “figured the world didn’t need another failed musician” and searched his mother’s cupboard for a solution. Next, he chose to ingest furniture polish rather than bleach, because he believed it would be more palatable. Fortunately, his drummer assistant, Jon Small, found him and quickly got him to hospital for treatment. Joel was placed on suicide watch, and steps were taken to deal with his depression before his release. Joel’s suicide message was the influence behind his song “Tomorrow is Today,” and in 1985 he released “You’re Only Human (Second Wind)” to help teenagers struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

2. Ken Griffey, Jr.

2- Ken-Griffey, Jr

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Born in 1969, Ken Griffey, Jr. played for 22 years in major league baseball and achieved All-Star status 13 times – so in some ways it’s hard to believe that he endured anything other than greatness. Baseball has seen its share of high-profile performance enhancing drugs scandals, but Griffey – who was at odds both with his father and others around him away from home – turned to a different, more commonplace drug early in his pro sporting career.

On a January day in 1988, a year after being picked in the amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners, Griffey took 277 aspirin tablets in an attempt to end his own life. He was taken to hospital by his girlfriend’s mother and was given a bed in intensive care. As Griffey was being treated, his father turned up, and the two got into a fight, prompting Griffey, Jr. to pull the drip out of his own arm. In an interview with The Seattle Times in 1992, Griffey spoke out about his experience, cautioning, “Don’t ever try to commit suicide… I am living proof how stupid it is.” Fortunately, his suicide attempt didn’t impact his career, and he went on to enjoy his first appearance at bat in MLB in 1989.

1. Eminem


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Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III in 1972, Eminem had a disruptive childhood but enjoyed writing songs and rapping. In 1996 he recorded his debut album, Infinite, but it did not garner the success he had hoped for. In 1996, following the break-up of his relationship with girlfriend Kim Scott – who wouldn’t let him see their young daughter – the rapper took a Tylenol overdose. However, he survived the suicide attempt and got back together with Scott. The two were married in 1999, the same year Eminem took the music world by storm with the release of his first major-label album, The Slim Shady LP. The couple had a tumultuous relationship and went on to divorce, remarry and then divorce again – with Scott attempting to take her own life in 2000. Then in 2007, having struggled with mounting problems involving prescription drugs, Eminem collapsed. Then after treatment in hospital, he started taking drugs again in early 2008. Eventually, that same year he sought the help of a rehab counselor and was sober by late April.