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7 artists who influenced millions, and then committed suicide

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Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. – Ernest Hemingway

Suicide is tragic enough, but it’s particularly bewildering when people who appear to have it all take their own lives. Recent research into the national increase in suicide among those aged 15 to 24 finds a unique intersection that exacerbates the burden on those prone to mental illness—enormous pressure to be perfect, combined with seemingly having it all going for you, combined with feeling exactly the opposite inside. And social media isn’t helping.

From artists to actors, from poets to politicians, from singers to saints; there is a huge list of famous personalities who committed suicide. But then there are personalities who, with their acting, art, poetry, politics, songs and sermons inspired millions, and spent a large part of their lives holding hands of millions through their work, giving a shoulder to the masses to cry on, to talk to, and urging the people to live life to the fullest and to never give up.

Below is a list of seven such personalities who inspired millions to go through the undulations of life and yet — committed suicide:

1. Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

In two of my all time favorite movies— Dead Poets Society and Goodwill Hunting, Robin plays a very inspiring role, teaching the viewers to ‘seize the day’ and achieve fulfillment in life.

One among the many lessons derived from the Dead Poet’s Society is — Suicide is bad for you, and carpe diem: an exclamation used to urge someone to make the best of the present moment and live life it to the fullest.

Throughout his career, Robin inspired millions of people. But, on 11 August, 2011, he committed suicide by hanging himself.

A note found that Robin Williams had apparently scribbled prior to the days of his suicide was shown in the Globe Magazine.

It said “Time to Go“.

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
“Comedy can be a cathartic way to deal with personal trauma.”

2. Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961)

American novelist, short story writer, and journalist, Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1953) and a Nobel Prize in Literature (1954). He was known for his great literary works, such as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and Old Man and which inspired millions of people to face the trails of life and to never give up.

But sadly of July 2, 1961, Hemingway “quite deliberately” shot himself with his favorite shotgun.

“Courage is grace under pressure.”
“But man is not made for defeat,” he used to say “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

3. Vincent Van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890)

Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, Van Gogh is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art.

In just over a decade, he created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life in France.

At the age 37, on 27 July 1890, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a 7mm revolver. His paintings still continue to inspire millions of people to live through mental illness and poverty.

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
“I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate.”

4. David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008)

The Los Angeles Times book reviewer David Ulin called Wallace “one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last twenty years”.

Wallace’s works have inspired writers such as Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Wurtzel, George Saunders, Rivka Galchen, Matthew Gallaway, David Gordon, Darin Strauss, Charles Yu, Deb Olin Unferth and many others.

On September 12, 2008, Wallace hanged himself from a rafter of his house. He was 46.

“Die for one person? This is a craziness. Persons change, leave, die, become ill. They leave, lie, go mad, have sickness, betray you, die. Your nation outlives you. A cause outlives you.”

“May be there was no cause left for David Foster Wallace to live more.”
“Try to learn to let what is unfair teach you.”

5. Virginia Woolf (25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941)

Considered one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century, and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device, Virginia at the age of 59 on 28 March 1941 committed suicide.

She filled her overcoat pockets with stones and walked into the River Ouse near her home till she drowned.

Famous authors like Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, Gabriel García Márquez and Toni Morrison were inspired by Virginia Woolf.

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”
“Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.”


6. Kurt Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994)

Nirvana: A transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.

American musician, artist, singer, songwriter, guitarist and poet, Kurt Cobain’s lyrics were something that fans took seriously. For many Nirvana fans, it was Cobain’s words that defined the band, its music and their generation.

On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, the victim of what was officially ruled a suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.

Since their debut, Nirvana, with Cobain as a songwriter, has sold over 25 million albums in the U.S., and over 75 million worldwide.

“The sun is gone, but I have a light.”
“Thank you for the tragedy. I need it for my art.”
“There are a lot of things I wish I would have done, instead of just sitting around and complaining about having a boring life.”

7. Chester Charles Bennington (March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017)

American singer and songwriter best known as the front-man for the rock band Linkin Park. His melodious songs about anger, pain, love, loss and passion were guides, voices of familiarity and understanding for a young soul struggling to make sense of the world.

Dark and depressing at first, but with time, his songs evolved from angst and despair into expressions of virtue, beautiful tragedy, hope, and longing. Each album outdid the other in capturing the flair of human struggle. His voice is always a force of conviction aiding along life’s tedious and tumultuous road.

On July 20, 2017, Bennington was found dead in his home in Palos Verdes Estates, California. He had hanged himself.

Some reports mentioned that Chester was very close with Chris Cornell (lead vocalist of Soundgarden and Audioslave) – who committed suicide in May this year.

“I can’t fall back, I came too far, hold myself up, and love my scars.”
“If my armor breaks, I’ll fuse it back together.”

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