Bill Murray says 19th-century French painting helped him when he was struggling suicidal thoughts

·2-min read
Bill Murray at a photocall for ‘New Worlds: The Cradle Of Civilization’ during the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival on 16 July 2021 (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Bill Murray at a photocall for ‘New Worlds: The Cradle Of Civilization’ during the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival on 16 July 2021 (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Bill Murray says a 19th-century French painting helped him when he was struggling with suicidal thoughts.

Footage of the actor discussing the artwork has recently resurfaced on social media after being shared by screenwriter and filmmaker Todd Spence.

Murray first discussed the painting and its impact on his life in 2014, during a press conference for the film The Monuments Men.

Asked by a journalist from Red Carpet News TV whether he could point to a time when art made a difference for him, Murray thought for a few moments, then replied: “I think it would be back when I started acting in Chicago. I wasn’t very good.

“My first experience on the stage – I was so back I just walked out on the street and started walking. I walked for a couple of hours and I realised I had walked the wrong direction. Not just in terms of where I lived, but the wrong direction in terms of a desire to stay alive.”

Murray then said he eventually walked into the Art Institute of Chicago, a prestigious art museum. There, he saw The Song of the Lark, a 1884 painting by French naturalist painter Jules Adolphe Breton. It features a woman standing in a field, a sickle in hand, with the sun behind her. (Larks are generally known to sing in the morning.)

“I’ve always loved this painting,” Murray said. “I saw it that day and I just though, ‘Well, here’s a girl who doesn’t have a lot of prospects, but the sun’s coming up anyway, and she’s got another chance at it.’ I think that gave me some sort of feeling that I too am a person and get another chance every day the sun comes up.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

For services local to you, the national mental health database – Hub of Hope – allows you to enter your postcode to search for organisations and charities who offer mental health advice and support in your area.

In the US, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 800 273 8255 or chat online for help.

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