When celebrities with a special place in our hearts have their lives unexpectedly cut short, the grief we feel can often take us by surprise. After all, we didn’t know these people personally — but as seen with the national outpouring of grief in the wake of famous figures like Princess Diana, Aaliyah, Kobe Bryant, and so many more, it’s clear just how great of an impact these stars can have on our lives nonetheless. From murders like those that claimed the lives of John Lennon and Selena Quintanilla to fatal accidents like those that killed James Dean, Paul Walker, or Naya Rivera, these high-profile deaths can be a startling reminder of how precious and uncertain life can be — sometimes to dangerous effect.
In a 2018 PLOS One study, researchers found, for example, that there was a 10% increase in the U.S. suicide rate in the months following comedian Robin Williams taking his own life. This “celebrity suicide effect” is an unfortunately well-documented trend that sees an uptick in suicides after someone famous dies by suicide, and speaks to just how impactful news of this kind can be.
Clearly, the cause of death in these celebrity tragedies is relevant to the reaction it produces, and a heartbreakingly common cause is accidental drug overdose, which claimed the lives of Cory Monteith, Michael K. Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and so many more. In honoring these lost lives, there’s a hope that the renewed awareness of the dangers of addiction may produce a positive effect and help prevent others from losing their lives in the same way — but first and foremost, we simply have to feel the grief of these lives that ended too soon.
These memorable stars have left an indelible impact on pop culture, first in life and now in death. It’s an honor to celebrate their legacies, and we couldn’t forget these celebrities if we tried.
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