It all started with River Phoenix for me.
The first celebrity death that really affected me was that of River Phoenix. I’d followed his career since his iconic movie Stand By Me, which he filmed when he was 15 and I watched (around a hundred times) when I was 12.
His death in 1993 when he was 23 and I was 16 abruptly taught me that celebrities are people too. They aren’t the Gods we make them out to be.
My parents didn’t discuss subjects like death. I could ask but was normally waived away or left with something trite like, “It’s nothing for you to worry about” or “don’t think about it”. I felt dismissed and lonely, like my feelings didn’t matter. My distress over the death of a celebrity I’d really admired – not just for his work but his ethical stance on so many things – didn’t matter. Silly Jo upset about a River Phoenix dying.
It’s just that his work meant so much to me.
Now parents are faced with having to deal with the fallout of Cory Monteith’s death. It's an issue that affects whole families because fans of Glee can range from toddler to teenager thanks to the uplifting music and constant dancing (thankfully the adult themes went right over their heads).
While the cause of Cory's death is yet to be officially announced, it is well known the actor had a long history of substance abuse and addiction – he entered rehab for the first time at age 19, and voluntarily checked in for treatment again earlier this year. Media reports suggest a drug overdose was possible, but the truth won't be known for weeks.
Cory was living a perfect life, wasn’t he? Handsome, rich, famous and doing a job he loved. Why on earth would someone like him have to use drugs to cope with his charmed life?