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suicidal ideation

Pop Culture

James Doohan, the original 'Star Trek' Scotty, once saved a suicidal fan's life

The actor called it “the best thing I have ever done in my life.”

Actor James Doohan shares how a fan reached out for help.

When people become famous, they know fans are going to want things from them all the time—autographs, selfies, shoutouts, handshakes and hugs. But what about when a fan reaches out in distress?

Canadian actor James Doohan, who played the lovably surly ship mechanic Scotty on the original "Star Trek" television show and films, received a harrowing note from a fan once. It's hard to know when to take a letter from a stranger seriously, especially when you're a famous actor, but he did.

"I got a fan letter from a young lady—it was a suicide note," he shared in an interview. "So I called her. I said, 'Hey, this is Jimmy Doohan—Scotty from Star Trek,' I said, 'I'm doing a convention in Indianapolis. I want to see you there.'"


The woman came to the convention, and Doohan said he couldn't believe what he saw. "Definitely suicidal," he said. "Somebody had to help her somehow, you know. Obviously, she wasn't going to the right people."

Doohan told the young woman that he was going to be at another convention in two weeks, and then another two weeks after that, and that he wanted to see her at each one of them. And sure enough, she showed up at all of them, despite them being held all over the country.

"That went on for two or three years, maybe 18 times. And all I did was talk positive things to her," he said. "And then all of a sudden, nothing. I didn't hear anything. I had no idea what was happening because I really never saved her address, right?"

Miraculously, eight years later, Doohan got a letter from the woman.

"I do want to thank you so much for what you did for me," it read, "because I just got my master's degree in electronic engineering."

Doohan said the story brought tears to his eyes every time he talked about it. "You know, to me, it's the best thing I've ever done in my life," he said.

Though Doohan passed away in 2005, his legacy as the OG Scotty—and as a caring public figure who went the extra mile for a struggling stranger—lives on.

Watch him tell the story: