Shocked, stricken and sad are the top words to describe my initial reaction when I saw the headlines that former Disney star Lee Thompson Young had died of an apparent suicide Monday. According to multiple reports, the 29-year-old was found dead in his North Hollywood apartment from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he failed to show up for work on the TNT crime drama “Rizzoli & Isles,” which was renewed for a fifth season last week.
Young’s death is the second high-profile suicide in a week after “The Bachelor” star Gia Allemand, who was also 29 years old, died Aug. 14 after apparently hanging herself two days earlier.
Though it’s unclear why Young committed suicide, his was among thousands committed in the U.S. each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the 10thleading cause of death in the US in 2010. It is also the second leading cause of death for ages 25-34. Firearms are the most commonly used method for suicide among males at 56 percent.
Young’s modest acting career began when he starred in the lead role of the Disney Channel show “The Famous Jett Jackson,” which ran from 1998-2001. Since then, Young attended the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts with a major in film production, graduating with honors in 2005.
He also continued acting, appearing in several films such as the 2004 sports drama film “Friday Night Lights” and the 2007 horror film “The Hills have Eyes II.” Young also played in minor and recurring roles for television such as Victor Stone in the hit Superman-show“Smallville” as well as a medical intern in the hit comedy series “Scrubs.”
Things were looking good for Young’s career when he found a steady acting role in the crime drama “Rizzoli & Isles,” which debuted in 2010. He played fledgling Detective Barry Frost, the second partner of Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon). Though Young’s character had a gift with computers, he would amuse viewers when acting squeamish at the sight of corpses and blood. Fans like myself will miss the chemistry he had with the rest of the cast on the show, providing humor and a lightheartedness that makes his character almost irreplaceable.
In the wake of his death, production has been temporarily halted for the show as the cast members are given time to grieve.