Suicide is a desperately painful topic to even talk about, but unfortunately in 2015 actor Jim Carrey had to confront the horrible reality of it. In September of that year his ex-girlfriend Cathriona White, a makeup artist, took an overdose of prescription pills and died at the age of just 30.
White had spent her formative years in Tipperary, Ireland, and then had relocated to California to try her hand as a makeup artist. She was good at her job and popular, with one of her co-workers describing her, in the wake of her death, as “a very nice, sweet, cheerful person to work with.” And when she met Carrey in March 2012, it wasn’t long before the pair embarked on a relationship.
White’s relationship with the actor lasted less than a year, however, judging from comments that Carrey made to the Irish Independent in March 2013. Talking to the newspaper, he divulged, “I did go out with an Irish girl. We’re not seeing each other anymore. But she is lovely.” It sounded, then, like their split had been an amicable one.
Other sources suggested later, however, that White had taken their parting of ways hard. One of the makeup artist’s friends apparently told investigators looking into her death that after the breakup White had stopped eating and sleeping properly. White’s estranged husband, meanwhile, revealed that she had had a history of depression.
In 2014 White and Carrey got back together for a second try at the relationship – a second try that would be tragically short-lived. Whether or not the couple split up before White’s suicide in September 2015 is unclear; regardless, the Irish native was evidently wrestling with a lot of demons.
Before making the fateful decision to take her own life, White left a message on Twitter reading, “Signing off Twitter, I hope I have been a light to my nearest and dearest.” She then overdosed on painkillers that belonged to Carrey. Later, police would reportedly find messages on White’s phone from Carrey wondering if she knew of the whereabouts of his medication.
And after news of White’s death hit the media, Carrey released an all-too-touching statement. In it, he said, “I am shocked and deeply saddened by the passing of my sweet Cathriona. She was a truly kind and delicate Irish flower, too sensitive for this soil, to whom loving and being loved was all that sparkled.”
“My heart goes out to her family and friends and to everyone who loved and cared about her. We have all been hit with a lightning bolt,” the statement concluded. Perhaps even as he was writing those words, though, the media was investigating the details of White’s life with a fine-tooth comb, eager for more information.
As a result, it was revealed that White was reportedly a Scientologist, and some therefore speculated that the Church of Scientology may have contributed to her death by not giving her proper psychological treatment. “Without a doubt, they would have prevented her from getting outside care,” said ex-Scientologist Mark Headley to The Hollywood Reporter in October 2015. However, the Church, unsurprisingly, denied any link.
Other, crueller people blamed White’s family, causing even more grief for them at an already unbelievably difficult time. Her mother Brigid hit back through People, though, by saying that the rumors that had been spread about her relationship with her daughter were totally untrue. That statement, furthermore, came after abusive missives had been delivered to Brigid’s home – and even a death threat being daubed on one of her walls.
Among the revelations reported on by the press after White’s suicide was, moreover, the fact that White had actually been married at the time of her death and that her husband Mark Burton was down on official documents as her next of kin. Nevertheless, one source addressed this matter while talking to Entertainment Tonight, saying that White had been separated from her spouse for some time and that Jim Carrey knew and accepted this.
Cathriona White’s funeral, meanwhile, was held in Ireland on October 10, 2015. Carrey himself was a pallbearer for his former girlfriend and is said to have wept as he was carrying her coffin. White was laid to rest next to her father, who had passed away three years previously.
A funeral is supposed to mark closure for the deceased’s family and loved ones, but unfortunately in this case one more detail about White’s tragic death was yet to come out. Nearly one year after she took her own life, in fact, the media uncovered her suicide note.
In July 2016, then, website TMZ revealed details of what was contained in the message that White had written to Carrey before her passing. In it, the tragic makeup artist had said, “I’ve spent three days now in disbelief that you’re not here. I can go on broken-hearted and try to put the pieces back. I could, I just don’t have the will this time. I’m sorry you felt I wasn’t there for you. I tried to give you my best part.”
White then told Carrey, “I don’t really know about burial or that sort of thing. You are my family so whatever you choose will be fine.” Perhaps the most devastating moment comes, though, with her plea, “Please forgive me. I’m just not for this world.”
Carrey would soon after speak out about the leak of the note and his onetime girlfriend’s autopsy details – and he was understandably upset about their release. “When I came to Hollywood to make it as a comedian, I soon learned that the details of my private life would be handed out to the media like free dinner vouchers,” he said in a blunt statement.
“I never dreamed that the people I love most in the world would also be on the menu. What a shame,” the message from the actor ended. White’s sister Sarah, meanwhile, had already given her take on the media intrusion that the family had suffered since her sibling’s passing, voicing her grief in a March 2016 piece for Australian magazine Blank Gold Coast. In it, she said, “Imagine having millions of people worldwide voicing opinions on your loss. People saying how stupid she was to kill herself over a man.”
And although the media seemed to revel in the details of White’s death and personal life, one thing was often conspicuously missing from their coverage: any real discussion on what actually leads people to commit suicide and how they can be helped. Certainly, suicide is an exceptionally serious problem: according to an estimate by the World Health Organisation, around a million people take their own lives annually across the globe.
White’s note, moreover, and in particular the heartbreaking statement that she “didn’t have the will” to put herself back together again, highlights how bad her depression had become. One of the major symptoms of the illness is feeling utterly without hope that anything will get better, no matter how temporary any problem or, indeed, the depressive period eventually turns out to be. Nor, in fact, do many feel they have the ability or wherewithal to fix themselves at all.
And it’s not just those who commit suicide who are in pain; once a loved one has taken their own life, the effect on friends, family members and significant others is usually devastating, too. Sympathy greeted Carrey, then, when in October 2015 he tweeted a photo of him and White together with the touching caption, “Love cannot be lost.” So, if you’re struggling with feelings of depression, or you know someone else who is, inform a doctor immediately. Help is out there if you look.