Expert on Russell Armstrong’s Suicide: ‘He Was Afraid to Live’
Russell and Taylor were in the midst of a divorce, and not only were allegations of domestic abuse on Russell’s part being exposed, he was believed to be in a significant amount of debt. Celebuzz spoke with doctor of psychology and CNN’s human behavior expert Dr. Wendy Walsh to get her thoughts on what was going on with him psychologically, and how Taylor should break the devastating news to their 5-year-old daughter, Kennedy.
Towards the end of his life, Russell was going through a lot of issues with his marriage and reportedly was in a lot of debt. What are your thoughts on the whole situation?
Men identify with money more than women and have a lot of feelings of shame around either lack of money or sudden loss of money. And right now the loss of money happened because the public perception changed. The perception was the wealthy Beverly Hills husband. And all of a sudden that changed. So hearing shame about that, shame about the exposure of domestic violence and loss of his wife. Now her career is taking off on TV. Also, the media and can be so pervasive, and even if they’re lying and write their opinion on Twitter or Facebook or any website anywhere, that you can have instant public shame. That can be overwhelming. Even if it was something that was misunderstood. It’s hard to get up in the morning when you look in your Blackberry or iPhone and see hatemail every day. I’m sure he got that too.
More often than not, reality shows are heavily staged. Do you think living in an alternate type reality was too much for him to handle?
It’s called projective identity. When they project an identity on someone and they actually take it on. The same situation was shown with prisoner studies where one group of students pretend to be prisoners and the other group pretend to be guards, and how abusive the guard impersonators were, and how victimized and weak the prisoners became, and they were all just students. They all could walk at any time, but nobody did. They actually became that. That’s the reason actors have such a hard time because they have to live, breathe and act a character for several months, then act like nothing happened.
The camera is in their face at all times, with these situations that aren’t 100% accurate, or maybe a little staged.
It puts a lot of unfair pressure on people. I’m not saying it caused depression that led to his suicide, but just amplified situations that led people to see how he was. It could have contributed to heightened depression for him.
There are reports that Taylor hasn’t informed her daughter of the news yet. How would you suggest she approach this?
In a therapist office with professionals around you. Kids need the truth in simple, concrete terms. Maybe, “Daddy was killed. He had a special thing in his head that made him sad all the time. He loved you so much but he was afraid to keep living.” Because that’s just it, he was afraid to live.