Artie Lange of the Howard Stern Show has battled depression, weight problems, and drug and alcohol addiction for the better part of his life. And those demons have, frankly, served as part of his appeal.
His constant attempts to get clean, and his subsequent spectacular falls off the wagon, were integrated into the Stern show’s daily joking, as was the death of Lange’s father when he was very young. The fact that Lange could be such a huge success in the comedy world, yet remain so deeply troubled, was something that kept him anchored Stern’s audience. They connected with this man who, for all he had, has experienced the same heartbreak and failure they all have gone through. Heck, Artie’s life was even WORSE than anyone else’s. That was part of his charm. Hard to have a bad day when you always knew Artie was worse off.
But that charm is quickly turning to grave concern. After being hospitalized for undisclosed reasons last weekend, reports surfaced yesterday that Howard Stern’s head writer and on-air colleague had attempted suicide by stabbing himself nine times. Lange and his spokesman have no comment on the report, which has now been picked up by various outlets. According to the Newark Star Ledger, Lange's mother found in his Hoboken apartment and called 911.
Lange, who has struggled with addiction, recently announced a hiatus from performing, telling the Star-Ledger in early December than he needed to "try to get my head straight." He's been absent from Stern's Sirius show since early December.
If you’re a fan of Lange and the Stern show, as I am, you know that this alleged suicide attempt by Lange would NOT be his first. In his book, “Too Fat To Fish,” Lange details attempting suicide back in 1995 by overdosing on thirty pills of Resterol (a sleep aid), Excedrin PM, and a pint of whiskey. Lange wrote a suicide note at the time and printed the text of it in his book:
Ma and Stace,
I cannot deal with my life. None of this is your fault. Do me a favor and keep on living. Maybe we will see each other again someday.
To read the rest of Lange’s passage on the incident is even more chilling:
It’s hard to admit any of this, even all these years later, because when I think about it there is one thing that scares me most of all: I was 100 percent serious about dying… When I started to feel the effects of the drugs two minutes later, my will to die did not change, but I had the weirdest emotional reaction: I was morbidly curious about what was going to happen and obsessively began going over the possibilities… I was actually excited and looking forward to whatever lay in store for me.
Lange survived that attempt, but has never overcome the root problems that drove him to it. Lange is seriously ill, and has been for a long time, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever be able to overcome the many demons that plague him. It’s one of the cruelest attributes of substance abuse and depression. You always assume there will be a turning point. You always think the person affected will one day be able to get past it and go on to live a happy, healthy life. But it never works that way. Most of the time, the demons never go away. They haunt you until your final days. And the final days of Artie Lange have never felt so near.
Get well, Artie.