A Surprisingly Long List of People Who've Attempted Suicide

I was surprised and saddened last week to read of the reported suicide attempt by actor Owen Wilson. Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums are staff favorites here, and we're definitely hoping and wishing for Wilson's full recovery. But as I started thinking about the comedy star, and mulling over the constant stress of his profession, it made me realize just how pervasive attempted suicide is among high-profile people. Here are some selected 20th century celebs who attempted suicide, but managed to turn their lives around:

Halle Berry - admitted to Parade magazine that, distraught over her failed marriage to baseball star David Justice, she tried to end her life by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Greg Louganis - depressed, abused and confused, Greg attempted suicide three times (including once by an aspirin-and-Ex Lax combo) after a knee injury at age 12 ruined his dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast. Luckily, he recovered, and made it to the Games as a diver.

James Stockdale - H. Ross Perot's former running mate attempted suicide while a POW at Hoa Lo Prison in Vietnam in 1969 to avoid torture.

Donna Summer - tried to leap from an 11-story window at a New York hotel at the peak of her career in 1976, but was discovered by a housekeeper.

Drew Carey - after a rough childhood that included sexual molestation by an unknown party and his father's death, the lovable Price is Right host attempted suicide twice in his teen years.

wallace.jpgMike Wallace - in a 2006 retrospective honoring his retirement as a 60 Minutes correspondent, Wallace revealed a suicide attempt twenty years prior.

Paul Robeson - the "Ol' Man River" vocalist tried to off himself by slashing his wrists in a Moscow hotel room in 1961, although his son (Paul Jr.) claims the event was caused by a CIA/FBI conspiracy that drugged him with LSD.

Elizabeth Taylor - hoped to end her life in February 1962 with an overdose of Seconal, although she said she did so only because she "needed to get away."

Fred "Rerun" Berry - the What's Happening!! star said he tried to kill himself three times prior to finding religion in 1984.

Robert Young - yes, even the Father Knows Best father fell victim to depression later in life, culminating in a 1991 attempt on his own life.

And an alphabetical list of some others:

adamant.jpgMaxene Andrews - survived after attempting suicide via a pill overdose in 1954, distraught over the breakup of the vocal group she'd formed with her siblings, The Andrews Sisters.

Adam Ant - tried to OD on pills in his early 20s after breaking up with his girlfriend.

Mary Astor - alcoholism led to a reported suicide attempt in 1951 with sleeping pills; she maintained it was an accident.

Tai Babilonia - attempted suicide after she became addicted to alcohol and amphetamines following her Olympic skating disappointment in 1980.

Drew Barrymore - after leaving drug rehab in 1989 at the age of 14, she tried to kill herself, but received treatment and successfully kicked the habit.

Brigitte Bardot - attempted suicide several times, first as a teenager. At 26, she downed a bottle of sleeping pills and slit her wrists, but recovered. "I took pills because I didn't want to throw myself off my balcony and know people would photograph me lying dead below."

Danny Bonaduce - made headlines by attempting suicide in 2005 during the filming of the reality show Breaking Bonaduce after his wife asked him for a divorce. Neither the attempt (nor the subsequent hospitalization) was shown on-screen.

Maria Callas - frustrated with her efforts to lure Aristotle Onassis away from then-wife Jackie Kennedy, she reportedly tried to OD on barbiturates in May 1970 (but later denied the attempt).

Martine Carol - thought that a triple-whammy of alcohol, drugs, and drowning would end her life when this French actress threw herself into the Seine at the age of 26. The cab driver who drove her there ended up saving her life.

Nell Carter - became addicted to cocaine and attempted suicide during the run of her hit TV show Gimme a Break.

cash.jpgJohnny Cash - in 1967, the "man in black" withdrew to a cave just north of Chattanooga, Tennessee, hoping to lose his way (and his life). He found his way out.

Gary Coleman - announced in 1993 that he had tried to commit suicide twice by taking sleeping pills.

Nadia Comaneci - while she denied it for years, the gymnastics legend was so stressed out (due to several factors, including her parents' divorce) that she tried to end her life by drinking bleach just two years after her 1976 Olympics success.

sammy.jpgSammy Davis, Jr. - the biography Me and My Shadow reveals that a distraught Davis, fed up with cracks about his race, religion, and height, tried to kill himself on his wedding night by driving off a cliff.

Diana, Princess of Wales - told an interviewer that she threw herself down some stairs while pregnant with William, hoping to put an end to her unhappiness.

Walt Disney - the Leonard Mosley biography Disney's World reveals a rumored suicide attempt.

Micky Dolenz - performed a suicide scene in The Monkees' 1968 film Head, then tried it for real a few years later after the band had broken up by walking into traffic and sitting down in the roadway.

Patty Duke - bipolar disorder resulted in several attempted suicides during her life.

eminem&kim.jpgEminem - tried to overdose on Tylenol in 1996 after wife Kim Mathers dumped him. She attempted suicide four years later by slitting her wrists.

Marianne Faithfull - attempted suicide in Australia 1969, after which she broke up with boyfriend Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones.

Peter Fonda - in 1950, a few months after his mother committed suicide, the 10-year-old shot himself in the stomach. Claims it was "stupid and accidental," but some believe it was the youngster's attempt at taking his own life.

Clark Gable - hoped to die during a high-speed motorbike rampage shortly after wife Carol Lombard was killed. He then joined the Army and flew missions over Germany during World War II.

Stan Getz - the celebrated saxophonist became addicted to heroin and tried to kill himself with a drug overdose in 1954 when police confronted him over an ill-fated attempt to rob a Seattle pharmacy. He spent three days in a coma.

Dwight "Doc" Gooden - in 1994, the troubled former Cy Young Award winner held a 9mm pistol to his head before his wife took it from him.

griffeyjr.jpgKen Griffey, Jr. - in 1988, just months after signing a lucrative pro baseball contract, the 18-year-old ingested over 200 aspirin to escape insults from fans and arguments with his father. He recovered after time in intensive care.

Mariette Hartley - attempted suicide (as did her mother) after her father died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1962. Now an advocate for suicide prevention.

Susan Hayward - the breakup of marriage to Jess Barker, and the related custody battle for her sons, led to a 1966 suicide attempt.

Houston - the R&B singer was stopped after he tried to throw himself out of a hotel window in 2005, and then gouged out his own eye. Reports vary as to the reason behind this behavior.

Betty Hutton - her father killed himself after leaving her mother. In 1970, Betty tried to take her own life when her singing voice faltered.

Michael Jackson - in June 2005, a bogus, trojan-laced email reporting on a suicide attempt by the "king of pop" (just before he was found not guilty) infected computers worldwide. While that report was false, some sources claim Jackson did try to off himself that December.

Billy Joel - after the failure of his band Attila, attempted suicide in late 1970 by drinking furniture polish. "It looked tastier than bleach," he later revealed.

Elton John - tried to kill himself by sticking his head in a gas stove, but writing partner Bernie Taupin found him "lying on a pillow, and he'd opened all the windows." The two collaborated on the song "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" to tell the story.

Sally Kirkland - the actress spent her 20s mired in drugs until a suicide attempt literally scared her straight.

shelley.jpgShelley Long - despite tabloid reports that her 2004 overdose on painkillers was a suicide attempt, the Cheers star claims she simply overmedicated herself in order to cope with the breakup of her marriage to Bruce Tyson.

Ginger Lynn - at the age of 12, the future porn star ingested a cocktail of medications to escape from her mother's constant abuse.

Jeanette MacDonald - tried to overdose on pills after learning of Nelson Eddy's marriage in 1939; was saved by W.S. Van Dyke (who later killed himself).

Mindy McCready - the country singer announced in 2005 that she had twice attempted suicide due to problems with boyfriend William McKnight, who had once nearly choked her to death.

Robert McFarlane - the National Security Advisor tried to end his life in 1987 over his involvement with the Iran-Contra scandal. He took an estimated 30 tablets of Valium.

Sinéad O'Connor - claims to have been haunted by thoughts of suicide her whole life. Reportedly attempted it in 1993, and then swallowed 20 Valium tablets in a failed 1999 suicide attempt.

Jennifer O'Neill - first attempted suicide at the age of 14, and then "accidentally" shot herself in the stomach in 1983, but recovered.

ozzy.jpgOzzy Osbourne - not only did he supposedly inspire self-slaughter with the song "Suicide Solution," but Ozzy admits to having attempted to off himself several times during his life, even as a teenager.

Marie Osmond - The National Enquirer reported that the singer's hospitalization in the summer of 2006 was due to an attempted suicide, but she and her publicists wrote it off to a reaction to medication.

Terrell Owens - the volatile NFL star denied a September 2006 report that he'd tried to kill himself by overdosing on prescription painkillers he had been taking for a broken finger.

bird.jpgCharlie Parker - the jazz legend known as "The Bird" wanted to end his life in 1954, but failed in two attempts. He was then admitted to the Bellevue clinic, where he received much-needed therapy.

Barbara Payton - in a love triangle with Franchot Tone and Tom Neal, she ingested several sleeping pills in an attempt on her own life, but was discovered by Tone. (See Jean Wallace entry below.)

Dennis Price - consumed by alcohol, the tall British actor left the gas on in his oven at his London apartment in 1954. A servant found him and summoned help.

Richard Pryor - later admitted that the fire that injured him while free-basing cocaine in June 1980 was really a suicide attempt.

raye.jpgMartha Raye - after breaking up with husband David Rose, she went into a depression and took an overdose of sleeping pills in 1956, but recovered.

Nina Simone - the singer attempted suicide due to depression and a sense of helplessness after being attacked in London during the mid-1970s.

Britney Spears - earlier this year, tabloid headlines claimed that the pop diva had experienced a breakdown and tried to kill herself twice, first by walking into traffic, then by ODing on Xanax.

Tina Turner - in her biography I, Tina, she revealed a failed suicide attempt in 1968.

Mike Tyson - in September 1988, the then-undisputed heavyweight champion crashed his car into a tree in what the New York Daily News described as a suicide attempt.

vanilla.jpgVanilla Ice - in 1994, less than five years from the peak of his success, the depressed rapper twice tried to kill himself.

Jean Wallace - the actress hoped to end her life with sleeping pills in 1946 while married to Franchot Tone, then by stabbing herself in 1949 after their divorce.

Tuesday Weld - began drinking at a young age and attempted suicide at the tender age of 12 by ingesting aspirin, sleeping pills, and a bottle of gin. "I had fallen in love with a homosexual and, when it didn't work out, I felt hurt."

Hank Williams, Jr. - the combination of drugs and alcohol abuse led to a suicide attempt in early 1974.

Brian Wilson - some sources claim the Beach Boys genius tried to kill himself in the mid-1980s, a low point from which he has since rebounded.

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Medicine
Charles Dickens Museum Highlights the Author's Contributions to Science and Medicine

Charles Dickens is celebrated for his verbose prose and memorable opening lines, but lesser known are his contributions to science—particularly the field of medicine.

A new exhibition at London’s Charles Dickens Museum—titled "Charles Dickens: Man of Science"—is showcasing the English author’s scientific side. In several instances, the writer's detailed descriptions of medical conditions predated and sometimes even inspired the discovery of several diseases, The Guardian reports.

In his novel Dombey and Son, the character of Mrs. Skewton was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Dickens was the first person to document this inexplicable condition, and a scientist later discovered that one side of the brain was largely responsible for speech production. "Fat boy" Joe, a character in The Pickwick Papers who snored loudly while sleeping, later lent his namesake to Pickwickian Syndrome, otherwise known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

A figurine of Fat Boy Joe
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens also wrote eloquently about the symptoms of tuberculosis and dyslexia, and some of his passages were used to teach diagnosis to students of medicine.

“Dickens is an unbelievably acute observer of human behaviors,” museum curator Frankie Kubicki told The Guardian. “He captures these behaviors so perfectly that his descriptions can be used to build relationships between symptoms and disease.”

Dickens was also chummy with some of the leading scientists of his day, including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and chemist Jane Marcet, and the exhibition showcases some of the writer's correspondence with these notable figures. Beyond medicine, Dickens also contributed to the fields of chemistry, geology, and environmental science.

Less scientifically sound was the author’s affinity for mesmerism, a form of hypnotism introduced in the 1770s as a method of controlling “animal magnetism,” a magnetic fluid which proponents of the practice believed flowed through all people. Dickens studied the methods of mesmerism and was so convinced by his powers that he later wrote, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a frying-pan.” A playbill of Animal Magnetism, an 1857 production that Dickens starred in, is also part of the exhibit.

A play script from Animal Magnetism
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Located at 48-49 Doughty Street in London, the exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2018.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Words
Beyond Wanderlust: 30 Words Every Traveler Should Know
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For those who travel, wanderlust is a familiar feeling. It’s that nagging voice in your head that says, “Yes, you do need to book that flight,” even if your bank account says otherwise. Regardless of how many passport covers this word may adorn, it doesn’t begin to cover the spectrum of emotions and experiences that can be revealed through the act of travel. Here are 30 travel words from around the world to keep in your back pocket as you're exploring this summer.

1. VAGARY

From the Latin vagari, meaning “to wander,” this 16th-century word originally meant a wandering journey. Nowadays, "vagaries" refer to unpredictable or erratic situations, but that doesn’t mean the old sense of the word can’t be invoked from time to time.

2. SELCOUTH

An Old English word that refers to something that’s both strange and marvelous. It's a great way to sum up those seemingly indescribable moments spent in an unfamiliar land.

3. FERNWEH

Who hasn’t felt a strong desire to be somewhere—anywhere—other than where you currently are? That’s fernweh, or “farsickness," and this German word has been described as a cousin of wanderlust, another German loan word.

4. DÉPAYSEMENT

A busy street in Hong Kong
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Anyone who has traveled abroad will recognize this feeling. The French word refers to the sense of disorientation that often sets in when you step outside your comfort zone, such as when you leave your home country.

5. DÉRIVE

Another gift from the French, this word literally translates to “drift,” but thanks to some mid-20th century French philosophers, it can also refer to a spontaneous trip, completely free of plans, in which you let your surroundings guide you.

6. PEREGRINATE

To peregrinate is to travel from place to place, especially on foot. Its Latin root, peregrinus (meaning “foreign”), is also where the peregrine falcon (literally “pilgrim falcon”) gets its name.

7. PERAMBULATE

Similar to peregrinate, this word essentially means to travel over or through an area by foot. So instead of saying that you’ll be walking around London, you can say you’ll be perambulating the city’s streets—much more sophisticated.

8. NUMINOUS

The Grand Canyon
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This English word could appropriately be used to describe the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights. Something numinous is awe-inspiring and mysterious. It's difficult to understand from a rational perspective, which gives it a spiritual or unearthly quality.

9. PERIPATETIC

The young and the restless will want to incorporate this word into their lexicon. The adjective refers to those who are constantly moving from place to place—in other words, a nomadic existence. It stems from the Greek word peripatein (“to walk up and down”), which was originally associated with Aristotle and the shaded walkways near his school (or, according to legend, his habit of pacing back and forth during lectures).

10. WALDEINSAMKEIT

You’re alone in a forest. It’s peaceful. The sun is filtering through the trees and there’s a light breeze. That’s waldeinsamkeit. (Literally "forest solitude." And yes, Germans have all the best travel words.)

11. SHINRIN-YOKU

In a similar vein, this Japanese word means “forest bathing,” and it's considered a form of natural medicine and stress reliever. There are now forest bathing clubs around the world, but you can try it out for yourself on your next camping trip. Take deep breaths, close your eyes, and take in the smells and sounds of the forest. Simple.

12. SOLIVAGANT

In those moments when you just want to run away from your responsibilities, you may consider becoming a solivagant: a solo wanderer.

13. YOKO MESHI

This Japanese phrase literally translates to “a meal eaten sideways,” which is an apt way to describe the awkwardness of speaking in a foreign language that you haven’t quite mastered, especially over dinner.

14. RESFEBER

A woman at the airport
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You just booked your flight. Your heart starts racing. You’re a little nervous about your journey, but mostly you just can’t wait to get going. The anticipation, anxiety, and excitement you get before a big trip is all rolled into one word—resfeber—and you can thank the Swedes for it.

15. FLÂNEUR

Taken from the French flâner, meaning to stroll or saunter, this word describes someone who has no particular plans or place they need to be. They merely stroll around the city at a leisurely pace, taking in the sights and enjoying the day as it unfolds.

16. GADABOUT

This could be construed as the traditional English equivalent of flâneur. Likely stemming from the Middle English verb gadden, meaning “to wander without a specific aim or purpose,” a gadabout is one who frequently travels from place to place for the sheer fun of it. In other words: a modern-day backpacker.

17. HIRAETH

Sometimes, no matter how amazing your vacation may be, you just want to come home to your bed and cats. This Welsh word sums up the deep yearning for home that can strike without warning. As Gillian Thomas put it in an interview with the BBC, “Home sickness is too weak. You feel hiraeth, which is a longing of the soul to come home to be safe.”

18. YŪGEN

The karst peaks of Guilin, China
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This Japanese word can be taken to mean “graceful elegance” or “subtle mystery,” but it’s much more than that. It's when the beauty of the universe is felt most profoundly, awakening an emotional response that goes beyond words.

19. SCHWELLENANGST

Translating to “threshold anxiety,” this German word sums up the fears that are present before you enter somewhere new—like a theater or an intimidating cafe—and by extension going anywhere unfamiliar. The fear of crossing a threshold is normal, even among the most adventurous of travelers—but it often leads to the most unforgettable experiences.

20. COMMUOVERE

Have you ever seen something so beautiful it made you cry? That’s commuovere in action. The Italian word describes the feeling of being moved, touched, or stirred by something you witness or experience.

21. HYGGE

This Danish word refers to a warm feeling of contentedness and coziness, as well as the acknowledgement of that feeling. Although not explicitly related to this term, author Kurt Vonnegut summed up the idea behind this concept quite nicely when he said, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"

22. HANYAUKU

Here's one for those who have a beach trip coming up. Taken from Kwangali, a language spoken in Namibia, hanyauku is the act of tiptoeing across hot sand.

23. SMULTRONSTÄLLE

A patch of wild strawberries
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This Swedish word translates to something along the lines of “place of wild strawberries,” but its metaphorical meaning is something along the lines of a "happy place." Whether it’s a hidden overlook of the city or your favorite vacation spot that hasn’t been “discovered” yet, smultronställe refers to those semi-secret places you return to time and time again because they’re special and personal to you.

24. DUSTSCEAWUNG

This Old English word describes what might happen when you visit a place like Pompeii or a ghost town. While reflecting on past civilizations, you realize that everything will eventually turn to dust. A cheery thought.

25. VACILANDO

In some Spanish dialects, the word vacilando describes someone who travels with a vague destination in mind but has no real incentive to get there. In other words, the journey is more important than the destination. As John Steinbeck described it in his travelogue Travels With Charley: “It does not mean vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction. My friend Jack Wagner has often, in Mexico, assumed this state of being. Let us say we wanted to walk in the streets of Mexico city but not at random. We would choose some article almost certain not to exist there and then diligently try to find it.”

26. LEHITKALEV

Backpackers and budget travelers, this one is for you: The Hebrew word lehitkalev translates to “dog it” and means to deal with uncomfortable living or travel arrangements.

27. KOMOREBI

Sun shining in the woods
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This beautiful Japanese word is a good one to save for a sunny day spent in the woods. Komorebi translates to “sunshine filtering through the leaves.” Does it get any lovelier than that?

28. RAMÉ

This Balinese word refers to something that is simultaneously chaotic and joyful. It isn’t specifically a travel word, but it does seem to fit the feelings that are often awakened by travel.

29. TROUVAILLE

Translating to a “lucky find,” this French word can be applied to that cool cafe, flower-lined street, or quirky craft store that you stumbled upon by chance. Indeed, these are the moments that make travel worthwhile.

30. ULLASSA

Just in case you needed another reason to plan that trip to Yosemite, here's one last word for nature lovers. The Sanskrit word ullassa refers to the feelings of pleasantness that come from observing natural beauty in all its glory.

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