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Diane Anderson-Minshall

Mindy McCready Suicide Latest 'Celebrity Rehab' Death

By February 21, 2013

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Dr. Drew

When troubled country music star Mindy McCready died Sunday from an apparently self-inflicted gun-shot she became part of a grim statistic.

I'm not talking about McCready joining the long list of reality TV personalities who have committed suicide, although her death certainly reminds us that there is a hidden cost to the dramas that unfold on our TV screens and engage audiences.

Emotionally fragile individuals can make for entertaining television. Troubled people--whether they are celebrities or just everyday folks--seem to attract chaos and drama two things that make compelling TV. It may be sad, but like car accidents it's hard to look away.

Of course, these are real people, not just some character on a scripted TV show. And their problems, their addictions, depression and other mental health issues are real too.

Too often--both in American society and on reality TV--those who are most in need of mental health care don't receive it. We need to change this. We need to do better.

If we don't we will continue to see far too many people (especially women) taking their own lives and others (especially men) lashing out and hurting other people.

The reality TV series that Mindy McCready appeared on was Season Three of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew, a show which billed itself as exactly the kind of mental health intervention that troubled stars like McCready need.

But many professionals criticized Dr. Drew for his methods--and that criticism increased after the drug-related death of former Celebrity Rehab star Jeff Conway. Eventually public concern led to an overhaul of the show, which transformed into the non-celebrity focused Rehab With Dr. Drew.

Now, in light of McCready's death, Dr. Drew is once again drawing criticism. Singer Richard Marx went so far as to compare Dr. Drew Pinsky to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, saying, the two had the "same results."

While that may be an unfair over-exaggeration, Huffington Post points out that McCready is the fifth former Celebrity Rehab cast member to die in just the last two years.

Of course it's true that people with addiction issues are at greater risk of death than those without. And whether Dr. Drew is a real therapist or not, a reality TV show is not and should not be a substitute for professional help.

Still, the recent suicides of McCready and Storage Wars star Mark Balelo should give those of us who consume or profit from reality TV pause.

What do you think? Do you think the entertainment industry should be doing more to help troubled current and former reality TV stars? Do we, as reality TV viewers have a responsibility to those who have entertained us? Does that responsibility continue after a reality TV season or entire series ends?

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August 7, 2013 at 2:49 am
(1) RjQOea says:

598842 272211Hey! Fantastic post! Please do tell us when we can see a follow up! 235647

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