Table of Contents
When you think of those who committed suicide, many words may come to mind such as poor, homeless, or alone. What is not usually first to come to mind, is famous. This may be why the suicides of celebrities are often the ones that engrave the most profound impressions on society as a whole. In most cases, suicide is a very private affair and hidden in the shadows. That being said, the final words of someone in the spotlight can bring this vital topic to light changing a whole generation of people, and enlighten many of those who praised and followed them. Here are some of the most illuminating final words of distinguished historical figures:
George Eastman (1932)
“To my friends, my work is done — Why wait?”
For those unsure, Eastman was an entrepreneur who is most famous for the Kodak Company and perfecting the Kodak camera. He was believed to have spinal stenosis and suffered from declining health for years before his suicide. On his final day he gathered a group of his friends to discuss his will, and after asking them to leave he shot himself in the chest, leaving only a small piece of paper with his last words on it. His death would seem to that of a once strong man who no longer wished to live, knowing he would become too weak to even die on his own terms. These few words are packed with so much suppressed emotions from years of trying to stand tall, that it’s hard not to feel them. He clearly made a point that at the age of 77, suicide is not just for the young.
Virginia Woolf (1941)
“I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness.”
As an author most notable for her works Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and The Waves, Woolf was a woman who wrote with everything she had until her very death. Even her way of suicide seemed poetically planned out as she filled her overcoat pockets with rocks and walked into the River Ouse behind her house. What made this letter especially heartbreaking was the fact that she wrote this letter to her husband Leonard and spoke very fondly of him through-out its continuation. She wrote, “If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.” Woolf had a very active mind with many thoughts, and even with a partner who she cared for, and who cared for her so deeply in return, she could not quiet herself. I think one lesson Woolf’s final words gave society is that no one should ever blame themselves, all we can ever do is give our purest love to those we hold dear while we can.
Adolf Hitler (1945)
“I myself and my wife – in order to escape the disgrace of deposition or capitulation – choose death. It is our wish to be burnt immediately on the spot where I have carried out the greatest part of my daily work in the course of a twelve years’ service to my people.”
As many people know, Hitler committed suicide together with his wife Eva, who he married that same day. His reason for suicide was stated as he felt he could no longer complete his agenda to “service” his people. He was someone who knew exactly what he wanted in life and death. His last testament took no responsibility for his actions, and mostly contained instructions, including what to do with his body, and even who could be the executioner. It was more a will than a suicide note, but it still contained some detail on much he treasured his wife. He truly was a man who died as he lived.
Sid Vicious (1979)
“We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye.”
Short and to the point, this bassist and vocalist, who was most famous as a member the Sex Pistols, wrote this note a few days before he died from a drug overdose. His mother was the one who found this note in his jean pockets after his death, leading many to wonder what truly was going on when he overdosed.
Kurt Cobain (1994)
“Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complain-ee. This note should be pretty easy to understand.—I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guity beyond words about these things.”
As a more recent suicide, many will remember the death of this famous musician from the band Nirvana, Kurt Cobain. His note speaks in depth about losing his passion and feeling guilty about having to “fake” his enjoyment of his music. He also wrote about his wife and daughter who he also feels guilty about, and seems to love very much. Cobain’s note showed the world how no one should ever force themselves to put on a mask to please others, and that even those that seem to be happy and doing what they love are not always what they seem.
Suicide is a tremendously difficult subject to genuinely understand, even for a psychologist. As shown above even those with power, money, fame, and even love, all things society teaches to be the cause of happiness, can choose to leave this world behind. Authors, musicians, political leaders, and people in business from all generations alike can all fall prey to this fatal decision.