Suicide expert: Narcissism, not prison life, killed Topaz

Israel Orbach rejects claims entertainer's suicide could have been prevented by checking him into a mental hospital.

dudu topaz police car 248 88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
dudu topaz police car 248 88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
A leading expert in suicide prevention rejected claims Thursday that Dudu Topaz's suicide could have been prevented by checking him into a mental hospital or keeping him guarded in house arrest. "In this case a narcissist person could not accept the changes in his life and was not prepared to get locked up by own self-destructive processes," said Israel Orbach, who is a faculty member of the psychology department at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. "It would have been easier for him to commit suicide in a mental hospital than in prison." Orbach was reacting to a claim by Zion Amir, Topaz's lawyer, on Army Radio Thursday that the suicide could have been prevented if the entertainer had been released on bail or placed in a psychiatric ward of a hospital as he had requested of the courts. He "should have been held in a psychiatric institution, or a hospital, or bailed out and guarded," said Amir. But Orbach rejected Amir's claim. "What Amir said is sheer nonsense," said Orbach. "If Dudu was free on bail he probably would have committed suicide sooner. One of the main means of preventing someone from committing suicide is to watch him in a closed environment." Topaz, who apparently hanged himself in the shower at the Nitzan Detention Center in Ramle, where he was awaiting trial for multiple charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, aggravated assault, and obstruction of justice, had attempted suicide once before during his incarceration. But Orbach, who is a clinical psychologist, said it was not the prison life that caused Topaz to commit suicide but his fall from stardom and his inability to respond to dimming prospects for the future. "He saw his life going from bad to worse and he did not have the strength to overcome," said Orbach. "Things crept up. What did he see in his future? He saw many years of imprisonment." "He must have felt endless despair," said Orbach, who described the pain an individual generally feels before he commits suicide as "a toothache to the soul." "Apparently he acted with unbearable pain which he could not tolerate for one more moment," said Orbach. "He wanted to kill the pain, and since he could not kill it alone, he killed himself along with the pain." Topaz's determination to end his own life was also apparent in the method he chose to die. According to a police report, Topaz asphyxiated himself with a kettle cord that had been tied to a shower faucet.