Reality TV Suicide List

If you follow me on twitter you may have seen me frantically tweeting on Sunday night to watch Harry’s Law. I’m a big fan of the show and love Kathy Bates. The show is written and produced by David E. Kelley whose previous shows include Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, The Practice and L.A. Law. It’s a quirky show that I highly recommend but last Sunday’s episode, titled Breaking Points had storylines about two of my favorite things. The first storyline was about a sequestered juror who freaked out during a long sequester and ran, and the other storyline was about a reality TV personality whose husband committed suicide during a hiatus from filming. The family of the deceased was suing the wife for forcing the husband to be on the show. I really think you all should try to find the episode online.  During the closing arguments by the defense attorney a long list of actual reality TV participants who have committed suicide was relayed to the jury, including Russell Armstrong. That was weird because the character on the show playing the defendant was clearly patterned after Taylor. I guess it was plausible deniability for the network.  I tweeted about that and a few people were incredulous that Russell was not the first reality participant to commit suicide. So I spent way too long on this gloriously beautiful day creating a list. I actually just stopped after 15 suicides and 2 attempts because it was a rather morbid use of my time.  Here is the list…


1997
Sinisa Savija Expedition Robinson (Sweden) This is the show Mark Burnett heard about which led to the popular Survivor series in the US. In essence, Sinisa was the first person ever to be eliminated on a “Survivor” game and according to his wife, he was humiliated and embarrassed that he was found the least liked and most expendable player. His wife said he was so upset about how he would be edited on the show that he killed himself nine weeks before it aired.

2005

Najai ‘Nitro’ Turpin The Contender  The boxer killed himself during an argument with his girlfriend while sitting in a car. The show was still airing at the time. He was the fourth person eliminated. The show had yet to air at the time of his death.
Kellie McGee Extreme Makeover  Actually, Kellie was never on the show. Her sister was supposed to be one of the people who got eleventy billion surgeries but was cut from the show at the last minute. Prior to being cut, Kellie was interviewed by producers and said horrible things about her sister at the goading of directors. She felt so bad about what she had done, she committed suicide.
Danny Bonaduce  Breaking Bonaduce Made an unsuccessful suicide attempt while filming the show after a scene where is wife asked for a divorce.
Carina Stephenson The Colony  (Australia) The 17 year old Brit appeared in the series to air on the History Channel about modern families from England, Ireland and Australia living as though it were the 19th century. Stephenson participated for four months that were very grueling and both physically and emotionally demanding.
2007
Cheryl Kosewicz Pirate Master  Cheryl and her boyfriend had fought about her appearing on the show. He committed suicide June 12 two days before the second episode aired.  Cheryl killed herself three days after episode 9. Cheryl was eliminated during the fourth episode.
Rachel Brown  Hell’s Kitchen Season 2 Rachel gained some notoriety by having a relationship with another female chef on the show. She was eliminated sixth and committed suicide after her season aired but before season three began.

Nathan Clutter Paradise Hotel 2 Nate killed himself shortly after filming ended and before the show aired. The family allowed the show to keep him in and air all the episodes. He seemed a little “off” on the show and was eliminated in the fourth episode. The show officially stated that he died in a climbing accident. In actuality, he jumped off a cell phone tower.

2008
Paula Goodspeed  American Idol Killed herself in front of Paula Abdul’s house after failing her audition. Goodspeed had allegedly been stalking Abdul for 17 years she was 30 when she died. The producers of Idol allegedly knew about the stalking according to an interview Abdul gave to The View and allowed her audition just to cause her stress and make “good TV.”
James Terrill  Supernanny  Appeared on the show as a single father struggling to raise his children. Killed himself six months later.
Simon Foster Wife Swap (British Version) Simon and his wife were featured as an “alternative lifestyle” couple because both he and his wife had girlfriends. After the show, Simon lost his job and his wife moved in with her girlfriend taking the kids with her. He overdosed shortly thereafter. The wife said being on the show devastated their marriage.
2009
Ryan Jenkins Megan Wants a Millionaire  Killed and mutilated his wife dumping her body in a suitcase in LA. Then fled to Canada and eventually killed himself in a hotel room. Shockingly, VH1 actually cancelled the show after four episodes due to the deaths happening while the show was airing. Ryan was eliminated in episode three.
Joseph Cerniglia  Kitchen Nightmares The chef and restaurant owner jumped off the George Washington bridge two years after appearing on the show.
2010
Julien Hug  Bachelorette He was eliminated in episode 2 and it seems had a girlfriend the whole time. He drove into the desert and shot himself in the head the year after it aired. Seems weird and out of character to me, but was ruled a suicide, and apparently he left a note.
Fantasia Barrino American Idol She won American Idol in 2004 and is rumored to have tried to kill herself with aspirin and sleeping pills during her much publicized affair with a married man.
2011
Russell Armstrong Real Housewives of Beverly Hills hung himself  after his marital  and financial problems were aired on the show and in the media. Russell had expressed concerns about how he was edited prior to his death according to his family.
Wesley Durden Next Great Baker  The TLC show, hosted by Cake Boss Chef Buddy Vastro, aired in 2011 showing Wesley getting eliminated on a December episode. Wesley was a military man who had served two tours in Iraq. I was up late one night watching the show in a marathon. Wesley was not professional baker and was not chosen by his peers in challenges, yet I was pulling for him to succeed. I was shocked when he was eliminated and the credits came up announcing he had passed. TLC received a lot of criticism for not acknowledging his death until the elimination. Wesley was voted out in episode four.

So what we have learned here is don’t go on a reality show. And if you do, try like hell not to be voted off in the fourth episode! Thoughts?

8 Comments

Filed under Reality TV

8 responses to “Reality TV Suicide List

  1. Pam

    Damn. That list is long.

  2. Wow.. and a loud sigh.. "Bringing the drama" has a severe emotional affect on people. Being a reality star is the new "IT" thing to do. But seriously, can we honestly name one Happy or at least content Reality star??

  3. Trista and ryan from bachelorette

  4. Niecy Nash (my childhood friend) and her clan…are doing very well. But of course, unlike many, she is made for this type of stuff being a comedian, always wanting to be an actress (Lola Falana) and because she has a very very supportive and spiritual family. She was made for this kinds of stuff!Jokes aside, people really need to be honest with themselves about their motives. Things in life very seldom go exactly how we want them to go and others perception of us is often incongruent with how we see ourselves. No support to handle this reality mixed with some unbalanced behavior(s) can often create these types of disastrous storms. Such damage, I am really starting to loathe these junkie-junk exploitive TV shows.Thanks!Lannette

  5. Ben

    Firstly, my heart and prayers go out to the families that lost these contestants. Secondly, I will say perhaps these programs exacerbate problems these people may have prior to being on them. I think mental evaluation should be installed in the screening process in a hopeful attempt to eliminate this from happening in the future. Lastly, with the exception of Kitchen/ Hotel Nightmares I’m not a huge fan of reality television. Chef Ramsay has a harsh, real, boot camp approach to business revitalization. It seems if the owners are willing to employ his methods they can save their businesses. Elimination style shows I think can be very dangerous in that bullying can, and does take place. If fact, it encourages it. This type of televised “pecking order” can drive the most seemingly stable to thoughts of, or the practice of suicide if a perfect storm of poor life events happen after being pushed off the show. Think about it.

  6. And now to Update with Josh Marks from MasterChef who recently ended his life as well

  7. Not surprised. You have to be a narcissistic asshole to be want to be on reality TV in the first place. They’re all fucked up in the head. Take the attention and the spotlight (cheap celebrity) away and they can’t handle it.

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