You may know British actor Stephen Fry from his voice (he narrated of all seven of the Harry Potter audiobooks), his role as Mycroft in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows -- or maybe from one of the other 120-plus titles he's appeared in since 1981. In addition to being an actor, he's also a screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television and radio presenter, film director, popular Twitter personality, beloved activist -- and he's been battling mental illness for years.
Fry has been public about his experience with with bipolar disorder, even exploring the topic in a 2006 documentary, Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. But during an interview this Wednesday, Fry opened up even more about his struggles, describing his own dramatic suicide attempt that happened just last year.
It's a powerful confession, and given recent news stories like Paris Jackson's tragic cry for help and the death of 25-year-old Bollywood actress Jiah Khan, Fry deserves major public kudos for addressing the stigma of suicide.
Fry was doing an interview in front of a live audience when he answered a question submitted by a 12-year-old boy. The boy asked him what it was like to be Stephen Fry, and Fry began by saying that it was "a mixed and peculiar thing." He described being a victim of his own moods, and that he had to take medication to keep from being too hyper -- or so depressed he turned to suicide:
I would go as far as to tell you that I attempted it last year, so I'm not always happy – this is the first time I've said this in public, but I thought I might as well. I'm president of Mind (a mental health charity), and the whole point in my role, as I see it, is not to be shy and forthcoming about the morbidity and genuine nature of the likelihood of death amongst people with certain mood disorders.
Fry said that last year he'd take "a huge number of pills with a huge amount of vodka" and that he'd ultimately fallen into an unconscious state and convulsed so much he broke four ribs. Thankfully, a producer he was filming with came to his hotel room in time for Fry to get medical treatment.
As for why people turn to suicide, Fry explains it succinctly:
You may say, how can anybody be so stupid as to want to end it all? That's the point, there is no why – it's not the right question. There's no reason. If there were a reason for it, you could reason someone out of it.
Here's the video:
Bravo to Stephen Fry for being so open about his own struggles, and highlighting the importance of taking depression seriously. Treatment and medication can save the life of a suicidal person, and no one should suffer the stigma of needing help.
Had you heard about Stephen Fry's illness before? Do you think it's brave of him to talk about his own suicide attempt?
Image via Stephen Fry