You Are Not Alone: A Few Survivors of Suicide Loss


Survivors of suicide often feel completely alone in their sadness, which is quite understandable. Unlike losing a husband or child or parent to heart disease or cancer, loved ones of person who have committed suicide can’t express their grief publicly. As often as suicide happens – approximately 30,000 times a year in our country alone—the topic is still so taboo.

Awhile back I interviewed Eric Marcus, author of the sobering book, “Why Suicide?” He has now launched a blog with the same title, “Why Suicide?” where he will be posting essays and memories of persons who have taken their own lives. I’m certain it will become a healing forum for many.

Both of us have published a comprehensive list of celebrities and notable leaders or artists from the past who are suicide survivors. Dan Fields of the Grief Support Services program of Samaritans, Inc., has compiled the comprehensive list.

Thank you, Dan, for taking the time to compile this list, so that other suicide survivors feel less alone.

Lost a Child

President John Quincy Adams (son)
James Arness, actor (daughter)
Marlon Brando, actor (daughter)
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway (son)
Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (daughter)
Judy Collins, singer/songwriter (son)
Tony Dungy, football coach (son)
Robert Frost, poet (son)
Major General Mark Graham (son)
Eric Hipple, NFL quarterback (son)
Brit Hume, TV journalist (son)
President Andrew Johnson (son)
Walter Koenig, actor (son)
Art Linkletter, radio/TV personality (daughter)
Willie Nelson, singer/songwriter (son)
Carroll O’Connor, actor (son)
Marie Osmond, singer and actress (son)
Senator Gordon Smith (son)
Danielle Steel, romance novelist (son)
Gloria Vanderbilt, fashion designer (son)

Lost a Parent

Mikhail Baryshnikov, ballet dancer (mother)
Richard Belzer, actor (father)
Larry Bird, basketball player and executive (father)
Drew Brees, NFL quarterback (mother)
Sarah Brightman, singer/songwriter and actress (father)
Frederick Buechner, writer and theologian (father)
Perry Farrell, singer/songwriter (mother)
Jane Fonda, actress (mother)
Peter Fonda, actor (mother)
Mariette Hartley, actress (father)
Christopher Hitchens, writer (mother)
Randi Kaye, CNN anchor (father)
Joshua Logan, stage and movie director (father)
Archie Manning, NFL quarterback (father)
Chester Marcol, NFL kicker (father)
Freddie Prinze, Jr., actor (father)
Senator Harry Reid (father)
Melissa Rivers, TV personality (father)
Linda Gray Sexton, writer (mother: Anne Sexton)
Michelle Ray Smith, actress (father)
First Lady Bess Truman (father)
Ted Turner, media tycoon (father)
Kurt Vonnegut, writer (mother)
Jake Weber, actor (mother)
First Lady Ellen Wilson (father)

Lost a Sibling

Clay Aiken, singer/songwriter (sister)
Robert Antonioni, Massachusetts State Senator (brother)
Anderson Cooper, CNN anchor (brother)
Cameron Crowe, screenwriter and movie director (sister)
Mia Farrow, actress and humanitarian (brother)
Julia Glass, novelist (sister)
Mariel Hemingway, actress and writer (sister: Margaux Hemingway;
also lost grandfather: Ernest Hemingway)
Katharine Hepburn, actress (brother)
Michel Martin, NPR host (brother)
Patrick Swayze, actor (sister)

Lost a Spouse

Stephen Ambrose, historian (wife)
Louise Erdrich, novelist (estranged husband)
Henry Fonda, actor (wife)
Katharine Graham, Washington Post publisher (husband)
Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of Germany (wife)
Courtney Love, singer/songwriter (husband: Kurt Cobain)
Helen Steiner Rice, poet (husband)
Joan Rivers, comedian (husband)

Lost Other Loved One

David Bowie, singer/songwriter and actor (half-brother)
Carmen Electra, actress and model (half-brother)
Eminem, singer/songwriter (two uncles, one of whom he regarded as a father)
Sylvie Fréchette, Canadian synchronized swimmer (fiancé)
Ferguson Jenkins, baseball pitcher (fiancée)
Senator John Kerry (grandfather)
Eli Manning, NFL quarterback (grandfather)
Peyton Manning, NFL quarterback (grandfather)
Liza Minnelli, singer and actress (aunt)
Demi Moore, actress (stepfather)
Denis Potvin, hockey player (cousin: Marc Potvin)
David Spade, actor and comedian (stepfather)

Compiled by Dan Fields for the Grief Support Services program of Samaritans, Inc., Boston (July 2011)

Originally published on Beyond Blue at

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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