Amid reports that distraught M.J. zealots have become suicidal in the aftermath of his sudden demise, the clergyman and friend of the entertainer is urging fans to “keep hope alive.”
“This is a time when hearts are heavy. There is great pain but great cause to celebrate Michael’s life,” he says. “It made Michael happy saying ‘We Are the World.’ Don’t self destruct. We fall down sometimes, we get back up. That’s the right thing to do. In Michael’s name let’s live together as brothers and sisters and not die apart as fools.”
According to the U.K.’s Sky News and Gary Taylor, president and owner of the fansite MJJCommunity, at least 12 ardent fans have committed or attempted suicide in the wake of the King of Pop’s passing.
Pavel Talalayev, a Russian Jackson impersonator who spent years and thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery to look like his idol, was among the first to attempt to take his own life.
“I started receiving calls from other fans, I tried to calm them down…And then I let myself go,” he told Russian news site Life.ru, as translated by MosNews, after his rescue by doctors. “I don’t know why the doctors saved me. I want to be with Michael.”
The Barcelona Reporter is reporting an additional fan death in Tunisia.
Not to sound like an afterschool special or anything, but if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide for whatever reason—Michael Jackson mourning or otherwise—please consult a professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).