Spotlight on Mental Health: The Hemingway Family ‘Curse’

Filed in Gather News Channel by on January 21, 2013 0 Comments

Many people talk about the Kennedy Family “curse,” but few know about the trouble with mental health in the Hemingway Family. Depression, addiction and suicide follow this famous literary family, taking the lives of at least seven family members since the death of the Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway in 1962.

The Admission

This past Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival, “running from Crazy,” a documentary that was produced by Oprah Winfrey about the Hemingway Family premiered.

File:ErnestHemingway.jpgThe documentary explores the untold history of the writer and his family. Mariel Hemingway, the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway explained in an interview with CNN that she wanted the film to be the coming out for the family, with hopes that other people would see that they are “not alone in the world of dysfunction.”

After all the “crazy” in the country the past few months, it’s good that more people are coming out and realizing that this is a vital part of health that needs to be watched more carefully and cared for as much as any other ailment of the body. The complete well-being of people has to include the mind and the body.

Denial: It’s Not Just a River in Egypt

When Ernest Hemingway committed suicide in 1961 everyone denied it. It was ruled as an accidental death. Despite evidence that he was depressed and had previously attempted suicide, it took five years for it to become official when his fourth wife Mary, admitted it in a press conference.

According to Mariel Hemingway, no one discussed her grandfather’s death or her great-grandfather’s suicides growing up. Until 2003 that unhealthy tradition continued.

In 1996, her sister, model and actress Margaux Louise Hemingway committed suicide. Mariel herself denied her sister’s death was a suicide until 2003.

Suicide is connected with other disorders, most commonly depression. Depression is also linked with alcohol and drug abuse. The documentary reveals the family history of depression and alcohol abuse. Margaux suffered from alcoholism, drug abuse and bulimia. She was 42 when she took a fatal dose of phenobarbital.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention begins with mental health awareness. That is the message of this documentary. Last month’s mass murder at Sandy Hook should overwhelmingly show America’s major crisis is health-related and the first step to fixing it is admitting the problem exists.

Picture credit: Lloyd Arnold

© Christine M. Dantz 2013

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