Given that celebrity deaths come in threes, and that Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Russell Armstrong has tragically committed suicide, will more star suicides follow?
—Madison, Wisconsin, via the inbox
The idea of celebrity deaths coming in groups of any number—three, six, pi—is a desiccated chestnut that, itself, needs to die. The notion of a specific cause of death spreading among the acting community, jumping from trailer to trailer, is ludicrous.
However there is a nugget of truth in your question, and with it, and opportunity to help others avoid Armstrong's fate:
And it is tragic.
Armstrong, the recently estranged husband of Real Housewife Taylor Armstrong, was found dead of an apparent suicide earlier this week. He was 47 years old.
Experts in the field of suicide prevention say that detailed reporting about such suicides can, in fact, lead to more deaths
"There is such a thing as suicide contagion, or copycat suicides," says Robert Gebbiah, executive director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"What we have learned is that, when there is sensational coverage of a suicide, vulnerable people can be encouraged to take their lives."
That group mostly comprises teens and young adults with a history of mental or other disorders, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, even eating disorders, Gebbiah says. If reporting is too sensationalistic or includes too many graphic details, that can inspire a vulnerable person to attempt a similar suicide.
"I've seen incidents where someone had jumped to his death from a certain location, and the media revealed the location and showed the location, and sure enough, there was a second death or even a third from that location," Gebbiah notes.
But such deaths don't necessarily correspond to celebrity or Hollywood. They can happen anywhere.
"We're really talking about people who are suffering," Gebbiah explains.
If you know such a person, or if you yourself are experiencing thoughts of suicide, it's important to seek help. You'll find a wealth of information here.