Show Mobile Navigation
Pop Culture |

10 Bizarre Celebrity Suicide Tales

by Kell Jenning
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Suicide is certainly a complicated matter. There will always be a debate of morality surrounding the subject. It is difficult to determine the motivation for individuals to take their own lives. Much of the conversation around suicide endeavors to be rational by often pinpointing “depression,” “abuse,” or “illness” for cause and effect. When dealing with celebrity suicide cases, the amplification of their statuses often negates real explanation and encourages irrational conclusions. Whether it’s malice, confusion, hearsay, suspicion, or potentially all of the above plus stuff that delves into conspiracy theory territory, the stories listed below address these attributes in one way or another. This list includes both hoaxes and bizarre attempts at suicide.

10 Elton John Tried To Gas Himself

Photo credit: Rolling Stone

Suicide and Elton John have been linked in the past. In interviews, he has recounted a failed suicide attempt in the early 1970s when he swallowed a hefty number of pills and then jumped into a swimming pool. But this wasn’t the first time; a 2007 biography claimed that Elton tried to gas himself with an oven in 1969 due to a personal struggle to reconcile his sexuality. It was, judging by close friend Bernie Taupin’s reaction, rather humorous in its bizarreness.

The story goes that “Bernie once walked in on Elton trying to commit suicide when he was about to marry a woman named Linda Woodrow. Elton had stuck his head in the oven. But Bernie couldn’t stop laughing. ‘Elton had set the gas on low with all the windows open. What’s more, he was resting his head on a pillow.’ ”[1] Albeit amusing to his close friend, John’s suicide attempt is still a serious topic for those struggling with very personal issues, and that cannot be understated. 

9 Jaden Smith Death Hoax App

Photo credit: Us Weekly

Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith, is certainly not dead. Rather, he has been added to an ever-growing list of celebrity death hoaxes perpetrated online by shady entities that aim to exploit celebrities’ fame for malicious intent. In the case of Smith, he was rather distastefully declared to have committed suicide in August 2016. The hoax was not dispelled immediately, as it turned out that Smith hadn’t tweeted from his account since July 8, granting the lie further momentum.

The hoax was elaborate, with a website asking readers to allow it certain app permissions before allowing them access to the story. Those who allowed permission found this “website app” sharing this “news item” via their Facebook accounts and replicating the it across several feeds, thereby giving it the appearance of credibility.[2] It is a clickbait trick used time and again to infect readers’ systems with malware. 

8 Brad Pitt Death Hoax Virus

Photo credit: DoD News Features

Brad Pitt is another victim of the celebrity death hoax phenomenon. Like Jaden Smith, a fake Fox News story from a malicious online source contained a virus that could infiltrate users’ Facebook profiles. It was certainly in poor taste, endeavoring to capitalize on the dissolution of Pitt’s marriage to Angelina Jolie in late 2016, by reporting, “Brad Pitt, 52, a multi-awarded American actor and husband of Angelina Jolie, 41, shot himself in the head at a shooting range on Sunday. He was under significant stress because the couple ‘were going through a divorce and he had a history of depression.”[3]

News sources were quick to dispel the story and warned users not to be fooled, for the sake of their devices and privacy.

7 Michael Jackson Trial Suicide Hoax

Photo credit: Keir Whitaker

This particular hoax predates the previous two entries, as it took place around the time of Michael Jackson’s second child molestation trial in 2005. It was timed to capture as much attention as possible because of the intrigue surrounding the ongoing child abuse case. The Windows e-mail contained a link purportedly showing Jackson’s suicide note. What users encountered instead was a virus that could give others access to their computer.[4]

Again, it was a hoax bred by malicious intent. However, it did act somewhat as a precursor to Jackson’s untimely death in 2009, for which there was also much conspiracy-ridden explanation, including the claim that Jackson’s death was some kind of hoax.

6 Mel Gibson’s Suicide By Cop

Photo credit: State of California

Everyone is familiar with Mel Gibson’s 2006 DUI; it is quintessential entertainment fodder. His infamous anti-Semitic rant against the arresting officer resulted in the steady decline of his once-illustrious film career and public image. Around five years later, with Gibson still reeling from the fallout from that incident, he found himself in familiar territory, this time involving the bitter disintegration of his relationship to Oskana Grigorieva and a custody battle for their daughter. Recordings of calls made to Grigorieva in 2010 from an enraged and unhinged Gibson were only further detrimental to an already tarnished career.

Accusations of racism, homophobia, and sexism as well as public concern for Grigorieva’s safety spurned a friend of Gibson’s to come forward and recount his older DUI in a different, albeit bizarre, light. His friend stated that Mel was not anti-Semitic and was only hurling racially charged abuse at the police officer in the hope that the cop would draw his gun and shoot Gibson dead. The friend stated that Gibson “felt that he had just absolutely failed as a human being,” on account of the failure of his marriage.[5] The friend also said that he believed what was going on that night was a farewell.

This attempted suicide claim certainly cannot be called legitimate, not with all that the public has been exposed to by way of Gibson’s many tirades, but it does add to the strange intrigue surrounding celebrity suicide spectacle.

5 Angelina Jolie’s Hit Man

Brad Pitt has already made this list as a victim of the malicious Internet celebrity death hoax phenomenon. However, according to an article, Angelina Jolie’s brush with suicide was purportedly real. Jolie apparently revealed that before she was with Pitt, she had once contemplated suicide. The circumstances were definitely bizarre, with Jolie stating that she once tried to hire a hit man to kill her because she thought it would be easier on her family if she was killed.[6]

Jolie said, “This is going to sound insane but there was a time I was going to hire somebody to kill me.” She described the bizarre relationship with this hit man, saying, “The person spoke very sweetly to me, he made me think about it for a month. And after a month other things changed in my life and I was surviving again.” This isn’t the first time Jolie has revealed something from the darker period in her life, fueled by drugs and depression. Conjecture or fact, it makes for an interesting read. 

4 Avril Lavigne’s Double

Photo credit:

A long-standing hoax that, according to Rolling Stone, “won’t die” involves Avril Lavigne. The resurfacing of this hoax in 2017 coincided with the 15th anniversary of Lavigne’s hit single “Complicated.” In 2011, a Brazilian post stated that Lavigne, who was at the peak of her success in 2003, committed suicide after her grandfather’s death. The hoax gets interesting when the post explains that rather than accepting Lavigne’s death, her record company supposedly employed Melissa Vandella to pose as Lavigne for paparazzi.[7]

The song “Under My Skin” was recorded by Vandella as Lavigne, and it has been this way ever since. The story also gave hints, exposing the body double with pictures showing changes to Lavigne’s face and handwriting—apparently all the proof that was needed. The irony in this scenario is that the Brazilian post made it clear that its motivation was to show “how conspiracy theories can look true.” Despite this disclaimer, the theory quickly spread like wildfire because of Buzzfeed’s involvement. A Buzzfeed writer had shared the conspiracy theory as a joke, following a visit to Buzzfeed Brazil.  

3 Sinead O’Connor’s Online Suicide Threats

Photo credit: Antonio Calanni/AP

It is hard work separating fact from fiction, a fact that has certainly been emphasized by Sinead O’Connor’s social media activity over the years. Regarding an alleged suicide threat in 2016 in which O’Conner told her family in Ireland that she planned to jump to her death from a bridge in Chicago, the singer openly called “bulls—t,” stating on Facebook, “Oh and by the way it’s bulls—t I jumped off a bridge, some stupid b—h up at Swords Garda station decided she’d like to throw a bit of false and malicious gossip about is all. AM FAR TOO F—KING HAPPY FOR THAT!!”[8]

Her happiness was in response to Britain’s decision to leave the EU, ensuring Irish independence from Britain. The stunt didn’t prevent Chicago police from staying on alert, just in case. After all, this wasn’t O’Conner’s first suicide-related scenario. Just a month prior, she had been reported missing and suicidal for 24 hours. Also, in November 2015, she posted on Facebook, saying “there is only so much any woman can be expected to bear” and that she had just overdosed. She was found and given medical attention.

2 The Disappearance Of Richey Edwards

Photo credit: WalesOnline

This entry is truly baffling and shrouded in mystery, and it involves Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards. Edwards, by the time The Guardian reported on the closing of his missing persons case in 2008, had already been missing for more than 13 years after disappearing without a trace. The day he disappeared, over £2,000 was withdrawn from his bank account. His car was found near the Severn Bridge, around South Gloucestershire, 17 days after he first went missing.

The last confirmed sighting of Edwards was at 7:00 AM on February 1, 1995, when he left the Embassy Hotel in London. He had been previously hospitalized for anorexia, self-harm, and alcoholism and was meant to fly to the US the day he was last seen. But instead, it appeared, he drove to his flat in Cardiff, where he left his passport, credit card, and Prozac, before heading for the service station nearest the bridge. Then he was gone.

The possibility of suicide was prevalent, due his prior hospitalizations and the fact that his car was found near a bridge which is a known suicide hot spot. His parents reached out to the press, and the band’s manager hired a private investigator, but nothing came of it. On and off sightings have been reported in Goa, the Canary Islands, and beyond. His case was finally settled by his family to put his financial affairs in order. According to their lawyer, it’s “not the same as an acceptance that he is dead.”[9] And so the mystery surrounding Edwards continues to this day. 

1 Chester Bennington And Chris Cornell Murder Cover-Up

Photo credit: Sry85, gdcgraphics

The recent news of the suicides of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell was truly saddening, and we are still grieving. Both were found dead of hanging two months apart, with Cornell’s death on May 18, 2017, and Bennington’s on July 20. Eerily, Bennington, who was very close friends with Cornell, committed suicide on Cornell’s birthday. This information has led certain people to find the circumstances surrounding the suicides problematic. Even Bennington’s own wife declared on Twitter that her late husband was murdered, before quickly deleting her statement.

These reactions have only bolstered the conviction of some that both men were, in fact, murdered in a very elaborate cover-up. An article by, which has been called fake by many hoax-debunking sites, stated:

The parallels between the two deaths are astonishing. The close friends, who were working on exposing notorious entertainment industry pedophiles, died in the same way – with Bennington’s death taking place on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday. 

Close friends of Cornell say that he was shown a ‘black book’ that included the name of one of his professional associates. After setting up his foundation and investigating further, Cornell was close to exposing a network of pedophiles working within the entertainment industry – a dangerous job that he considered his ‘duty’. 

But his friends believe he was taken out before he finished the job.[10]

This murder conspiracy link between Cornell and Bennington has garnered some support online even though has been heavily criticized for a lack of legitimate or credible sources, and the article has been officially debunked. This emphasizes the problematic nature of unfiltered news, the question of real versus fake. Of course, the exploitation of minors in the entertainment industry is indeed very real and needs to be addressed, but when stories such as this undermine the personal issues both men faced, which speaks to a broader culture of older men being more likely to commit suicide, that is also problematic.  

A novice writer with an interest in the bizarre and unconventional. Avid history, art, and pop culture fan and loves the occasional conspiracy theory.


Read more about celebrities who took their own lives on 10 Bizarre and Tragic Celebrity Suicides and 10 Iconic Actresses Who Tragically Ended Their Lives.

fact checked by Jamie Frater