I was really trying to avoid this story, because, well, I’m a hell of a lot more comfortable making jokes about throwing pies at reality TV stars than I am discussing depression and suicide. But seeing as we’re now in our second full day of coverage about it, it would pretty much be negligent of me to continue ignoring it. Russell Armstrong, the estranged husband of one of the stars of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” committed suicide on Monday by hanging himself. As more details come out, it appears the effect the show was having on his life was a contributing factor in his death. From EW:
Russell Armstrong was more than $1.5 million in debt at the time of his suicide Monday, according to his attorney, and his mother told Headline News that he was dreading the way he would be portrayed in the upcoming season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. “Before the new season even started, before he took his life, he said, ‘Mom, they’re just going to crucify me this season,’” John Ann Hotchkiss told HLN’s Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell. “He said, ‘I don’t know what to do. I’ll never survive it.’”
Armstrong’s attorney Ronald Richards told ABC News that the show’s celebration of outrageous excess plunged Armstrong into debt “as a result of trying to keep up with expectations for the lavish lifestyle portrayed on the show.
As I said up top, this whole story makes me super uncomfortable. I can certainly imagine how being trashed on television like that could lead to depression, especially when coupled with a mountain of debt. And while it would be very easy to make some crass joke about the cartoonishly dramatic cast of these shows, I’m instead going to back away slowly and implore everyone who has entertained thoughts about harming themselves to speak to a professional. If there’s ever a silver lining to a suicide, it’s that it can sometimes help publicize issues like depression, and maybe convince others going through similar problems to seek help.
One other item of note from this story: rapper and “Law & Order: SVU” actor Ice-T got into trouble for a comment he made about Armstrong’s suicide on Twitter, where he said, “Bad joke.. but alotta those wives would make me consider it.” Definitely not the nicest thing you could say under the circumstances, but this is also the guy who released a song called “Cop Killer” and once told songstress Aimee Mann to “eat a hot bowl of dicks,” so I don’t think anyone should be too shocked at his lack of sensitivity.