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Spalding Gray - Bipolar Actor and Author

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Updated May 25, 2012

I'm not familiar with Spalding Gray's work. He wrote and performed his own monologues, three of which were made into films. The best known of these is Swimming to Cambodia, based partly on his appearance in the movie The Killing Fields. But I'd never heard his name before his disappearance on January 10, 2004, made the news.

I followed the sad, intriguing story of the missing author-actor as the days passed. I wasn't able to discover when Gray, 62, was diagnosed bipolar. I learned that Gray and his wife, Kathy Russo, have a teen-age daughter and two young sons, Forrest, 11, and Theo, 6. I learned that Gray's bipolar mother committed suicide when she was 52, and that although he had suffered bouts of depression on and off for some time, he had never been suicidal until after he suffered a fractured skull and a shattered hip in a terrible auto accident in 2001. He never fully recovered physically from that accident, and the pain and disability increased his depression.

In September of 2002 he attempted suicide twice. After that he underwent ECT and tried other therapies as well, though with no great success. News sources reported that when he disappeared, he left his medication behind.

On the evening of January 10th, he called home and spoke to his 6-year-old son, saying, "I'm just making sure everything's okay and I'll be home soon and I love you." That was the last anyone heard from him. For two months his family and friends lived in a waking nightmare, with no way to discover the truth. They clung to the hope that he is alive - as who would not, in their place?

On March 7, 2004, his body was pulled from the East River off Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Today, the city medical examiner confirmed his identity through dental records and X-rays.

This situation is a vivid reminder to each member of our community that they are loved, that people do care. If you who are reading this are feeling suicidal, please think of what pain you would cause your family and friends. Pick up the phone and call 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) in the United States, or check out our Suicide Crisis Resources and make use of what you find there.

The About Bipolar Guides and community send our sympathies to the family and friends of Spalding Gray.

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