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.