A Staged Suicide

03 Jun

Apparently, 19-year-old Kipp Rusty Walker suffered from mental health issues and had threatened to kill himself in the past. One night he made good on that threat. It’s a sad truth that suicides happen every day. But they don’t happen this way. In public. On stage.


It seems that Kipp stabbed himself to death during an open mic night at the Strictly Organic Coffee Co. in Bend, Oregon. The audience cheered and clapped, mistakenly believing that it was all part of the act. By the time they realized that it wasn’t, it was too late for Kipp.

Though this was a suicide rather than a natural death, it reminded me of the death of comedian Dick Shawn. A veteran of the movies and The Ed Sullivan Show, he also had an award-winning one-man show that he titled The Second Greatest Entertainer in the Whole Wide World. On April 17, 1987 while performing in San Diego and doing a skit about a politician, he said, “If elected, I will not lay down on the job.” He collapsed on the stage. As with Kipp, the audience thought this was part of the act and began to laugh and clap. But soon they realized that this wasn’t an act. That something tragic had happened. Dick Shawn had suffered a massive heart attack and died before their eyes.

Two very sad and unusual deaths.


Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


6 responses to “A Staged Suicide

  1. Mulan Hua

    June 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Hello Dr. Lyle,
    I have been following up on your forensics blog. I must say…its really interesting especially for a mystery geek like me. I have a question…this particular post got me thinking, has there been a case where a culprit killed the victim and staged it as suicide???


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      June 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      Absolutely. Murderers often try to make the killing look like an accident or a suicide.


  2. Jenny Milchman

    June 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Very sad. What a desperate sorrow Kipp must have felt, and what unhappy timing in Dick Shawn’s case. Although I suppose he went out doing what he loved. The audiences must have been something close to experiencing secondary trauma. Really awful.


  3. April Henry

    June 4, 2011 at 7:09 am

    There was a politician who killed himself at a live press conference and a reporter who killed herself on air. Both were at least 20 years ago.


  4. Tapu

    June 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Interesting coincidence for me. I just ran across your blog, and I was AT that Dick Shawn show at UCSD. Shawn lay there a very long time–seems like it now especially–before what I think was a dr or a med student at least went up and checked his pulse and said, “He’s dead” or whatever. Still took a while for some people to believe it. (Not me. I was convinced by then.)

    The poster above makes what is an actual happy point about all this–Dick Shawn would have died laughing at how he went out.

    Jen Burgess


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      June 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      I agree. If he had had a choice this is likely the way he would have wanted to go.



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