Last Wednesday, Lisa Robin Kelly of “That ’70s Show” fame died at the age of 43. This death occurred on the same day as the death of former “The Bachelor” star and 29-year-old model Gia Allemand. In July, Twitter and Facebook feeds blew up with news of the death of 31-year-old Cory Monteith, the former “Glee” star.
While all three of these deaths are sad, it seems as though many people focus on celebrity deaths as extra-tragic. They all died at relatively young ages. Even Amy Winehouse’s death in 2011 allowed her entrance into the “Forever 27 Club,” a group of young celebrities who died at 27 years of age, including others such as Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain.
While the celebrity deaths that have recently occurred do not grant them “access” to the Forever 27 Club, they have still shaken the lives of people around the United States and around the world.
However, this Editorial Board thinks that it is important to note that these deaths were preventable. Yes, it is unfortunate that they all died at such young ages, but they died neither from a fatal disease nor from a car accident in which they were hit unexpectedly. Allemand’s death was an apparent suicide from hanging herself, and Monteith overdosed on heroin and alcohol. The cause of Kelly’s death has not been determined at this time, but she died in a rehabilitation center after struggling with substance abuse issues. She may not have specifically overdosed, but her addictions in the past may have led to a health problem that ultimately caused her to die in her sleep.
The media extensively covers celebrity deaths. Obviously, these deaths are noteworthy, but there are problems with glamorizing celebrities who have died young from such preventable causes.
According to an article in Psychology Today, “For individuals who are already vulnerable to suicide, hearing explicit details about suicide via the media increases risk. Glamorizing celebrity suicide also increases risk. Why should we hear more about a celebrity because he or she has died by suicide than we might have heard about that person if he or she had continued to live?”
This mentality seems especially apparent with celebrities like Kelly and Allemand. They had not been on the regular media circuit in recent years, yet news coverage of their deaths has been tremendous.
In the case of Monteith, he may not have intentionally overdosed, but the result is the same. This could even be argued as a worse scenario because so many young people look up to him as a role model, despite his substance abuse problems. On the other hand, if non-celebrities die of overdoses, they are often looked upon as less tragic, almost as if they had it coming since they had an addiction problem.
U.S. News published an article emphasizing that Monteith’s death could open the eyes of some young people struggling with addiction. In this article, Dr. Paul Hokemeyer was interviewed, saying, “There’s this social and cultural acceptance of drug abuse … We don’t see it as what it is, which is a chronic problem with a solution.” Hokemeyer noted that he believes this is a time of “crisis” for young people and addiction.
These deaths, both intentional and not, are preventable, and students suffering at ISU can receive the help they need if they are a part of this group. Student Counseling Services offers assistance for addiction problems, depression, eating disorders and other mental disorders. Deaths of any sort are sad, and it is important to prevent them whenever possible, celebrity or not.