Actor Lee Thompson Young took his own life earlier this week, but since he didn’t leave a suicide note or any context for the decision whatsoever, many are still looking for ways to explain his tragic, mysterious death.
The 29-year-old Rizzoli & Isles star was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his apartment earlier this week. He kept a regular diary, but it didn’t seem to reveal any clues as to why he would take his own life.
A source told E! News that Young practiced the Yorùbá religion, which is more of a community of faiths based on the traditions of the West African tribe of the same name. A source close to Young said that things “really changed” when he started practicing the lifestyle a few years ago.
The celebrity news site reports that Yorùbá practicioners have a saying, as well: “Iku ya j’esin,” which means “death is preferable to ignominy,” or public shame. They imply that this means Young took his own life to preserve some sort of personal or family honor.
Young’s insider said that the actor “took [his religion] to the next level and started wearing white all of the time,” and that the religion was “everything to him.” Shortly before his death, he visited a small village in Africa for something reportedly related to the religion.
But other sources say that Yorùbá does not condone suicide. “Their belief is that if somebody commits suicide, they will be punished in the hereafter,” Yorùbá culture icon and Chief Priest of Osogbo, Araba Ifayemi Osundagbonu Elebuibon told the National Mirror earlier this year.
Additionally, many online and in the Nigerian community have excoriated E! News for the story, accusing them of reporting false facts in their search for a reason behind Young’s death (but let’s be honest, it’s actually all about clicks).
One reader fumed: “One Wait what?! Religion called Yoruba? OKAY perhaps I need to consult google to find out about this religion because as far as I know it’s a tribe and a language.”
“What sort of foolishness is this… Can’t the E! News researchers do what they are paid for before writing trash!” said another.
The E! News report is pretty questionable, but law enforcement authorities are still puzzling over what drove Lee Thompson Young to take his own life. “It’s still a mystery. Evidently he was a clean-cut kid who didn’t use alcohol and had no reported drug problem,” a law enforcement source told the Daily News Tuesday.
Do you think that E! News was irresponsible for implying that Yorùbá culture and / or religion could have played a role in Lee Thompson Young’s death?