If you feel like 2018 has been a difficult year in terms of celebrity deaths, you’re right. While many well-known actors, singers and personalities have passed as a result of natural causes, drug abuse, depression and anxiety have also played a role in these losses.
There have been a number of high-profile celebrity deaths over the past 12 months that have been linked to addiction and mental health. Here at FHE Health, we know all too well the impact these deaths can have on people within the recovery community; each death serves as a stark reminder that drug abuse and mental illness can affect anyone.
We’ve put together this summary of celebrity deaths from 2018 to both honor these victims and bring much-needed attention to the ongoing issues surrounding our community.
On the surface, Anthony Bourdain seemed to have everything going for him. As a celebrity chef he had risen through the ranks to become one of television’s best-known personalities, and he successfully transitioned from the kitchen to prime-time network stardom by combining his natural love of travel with his innate ability to tell great stories.
At the time of his death by suicide — he reportedly hung himself in his hotel room while filming his “Parts Unknown” series for CNN — Bourdain had achieved what many chefs only dream of. He had a loving wife and a lucrative career and was widely respected among his peers. He had even dined with President Barack Obama in a low-budget bar in Hanoi, Vietnam, which Obama tweeted about following the announcement of Bourdain’s death.
And although his death by suicide was both tragic and unexpected, those who were closest to Bourdain have worked hard to use his death for good. Unlike some other celebrity deaths by suicide that have been swept under the rug, CNN and Bourdain’s family have worked to increase awareness about suicide, mental illness and suicide prevention following Bourdain’s death.
Kate Brosnahan Spade, the renowned fashion designer better known simply as Kate Spade, committed suicide by hanging in her New York apartment at the age of 55. She left behind a 14-year-old daughter and her husband Andy Spade, whom she had been living apart from for about 10 months prior to her death.
According to Andy Spade, her death came as a “complete shock” to him and those who knew her. However, he did reveal that she had been dealing with both anxiety and depression for a number of years prior to her death. A statement written by Andy Spade states that “Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives. We (he and their daughter) were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy.”
He further explained that “There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”
At the time of her death, it’s reported that Kate Spade had an estimated net worth of $150 million, which brought attention to the fact that great financial wealth doesn’t equate to mental wellness. Spade’s suicide seemed to resonate throughout the celebrity set, with well-known figures including Chelsea Clinton, Kenneth Cole and Josh Groban commenting on the suicide via social media.
Another shocking death related to mental health and addiction was the apparent accidental drowning of Dolores O’Riordan, the frontwoman of the alternative rock group The Cranberries.
Reports indicate that O’Riordan was found floating in a bathtub in London’s Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, fully dressed in her PJs, with high levels of alcohol found in her system. The inquest into her sudden death revealed that both empty liquor bottles and containers of prescription benzodiazepines were found in O’Riordan’s room.
O’Riordan’s death was ruled an accident by Coroner Shirley Radcliffe; however, some industry insiders have expressed that she spent years struggling with the impact of an abusive childhood. In 2014, her marriage fell apart, and that same year she was arrested for assaulting both a flight attendant and a police officer. The judge in that case “spared her from jail after determining she was mentally ill at the time,” and “she was subsequently diagnosed as bipolar.”
Margot Kidder, the Canadian-born actress who played Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane in the blockbuster Superman film series, committed suicide on May 13, 2018, at the age of 69 at her Montana home. Her manager initially reported that Kidder had passed peacefully in her sleep; however, Park County coroner Richard Wood later stated that Kidder “died as a result of self-inflicted drug and alcohol overdose.”
According to Kidder’s daughter Maggie McGuane, she immediately suspected that her mother had taken her own life upon learning of her death. McGuane said, “It’s a big relief that the truth is out there,” and “it’s important to be open and honest so there’s not a cloud of shame in dealing with this.”
Kidder had struggled with mental illness throughout her entire life, and she was formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder following a serious car crash in 1990 that left her with limited mobility. Kidder subsequently incurred close to a million dollars in debt, suffered a number of manic episodes and was placed in psychiatric care.
Once Kidder found a successful treatment for her mental illness, she returned to acting, earning a Daytime Emmy for her 2015 role in a kids’ series. She was also a political activist who was arrested in 2011 during a protest of the Keystone XL pipeline, and prior to her death, Kidder was known for taking in others who struggled with addiction and mental health issues.
Best known for his breakout role as ‘Mini-Me’ in the Austin Powers movie trilogy, Verne Troyer died at the age of 49 from the effects of alcohol. According to the Los Angeles County Coroner, his death was ruled a suicide.
Troyer was born with cartilage-hair hypoplasia, a genetic condition that impacted his growth. He stood 2 feet 8 inches tall, and he spent his final three weeks in an alcohol-induced coma at an L.A. hospital, where he passed on April 21.
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Mental health and addiction have an impact on everyone — even wealthy celebrities.
If you or someone you care about needs help, call us here at FHE Health. We’re available to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week.