Following the tragic suicide of Everybody Loves Raymond star Sawyer Sweeten, everyone in his life – and the fans who watched him grow up – are wondering what happened.
Sadly, Sweeten is just one of a long line of child stars who has committed suicide. Radar Online has spoken with one source who believes Sawyer may have succumbed to the same torments that have haunted other young Hollywood actors.
Sweeten, his brother Sullivan and sister Madylin played the Barone children for nearly a decade; the boys were only 10 when they left the show and the roles followed them for the rest of their childhoods. All three siblings had a hard time finding work.
The source said Sawyer took his struggles much hard than the others.
“Sawyer was always a bit off, but in a very harmless way it seemed. He was a shy, reserved and quiet young man.”
He was also a “good kid” and didn’t use drugs or cause drama, Sweeten’s manager, Dino May, told US Weekly. Sawyer also showed no signs of being distressed.
“[There was] no depression, no nothing. He was a good kid. Teenage stuff, but no depression, no signs or anything. (He was “just a great, very quiet, very shy kid.”
But sadly, many child stars have taken similar drastic measures as Sawyer Sweeten, Yahoo Health reported. Lee Thompson Young of Rizzoli and Isles shot himself at 29, Who’s the Boss’ Jonathan Brandis hanged himself at 27, and Justin Pierce of Kids hanged himself at 25. Diff’rent Strokes star Dana Plato died of a drug overdose at 34. As did Christopher Pettiet, Christina Applegate’s little brother in Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead, at 24. Cory Haim, 38, and Brittany Murphy, 32, both struggled with addiction and died of pneumonia.
And even more fight personal demons in the public eye — Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, Jodie Sweetin.
With Sweeten’s death, we have to ask — what’s going on here? One psychologist said Sawyer likely endured the kinds of struggles ordinary people will never have to face: “the height of fame to the depth of living without it.”
Fame during childhood, like the kind Sweeten experienced, doesn’t have the best effect on a young person’s development. Though it may seem that being a child star comes with certain freedoms, they’re often constrained by work schedules people don’t usually face until adulthood.
In that rather unusual environment, “developmental skill-building” just doesn’t happen and child stars never learn how to cope with natural struggles like rejection, loss or learn to develop their identities, said clinical psychologist John Mayer. Often they grow up into “ill-equipped, often dysfunctional adults.”
“Many of these kids become adults with ‘holes’ in their development, and, at worst, they are emotional and social disasters.”
Which isn’t to say Sawyer Sweeten was anything of the sort. But it’s a sobering thought: Child stars often derive their sense of value in the world from their fame and see themselves through the lens of their popularity. And when that fame dries up, sometimes only despair is left in its place.
[Photo Courtesy Kevin Winter/Getty Images]