Frida Kahlo's Death May Have Been Expedited by Husband

So says the grandson of Diego Rivera, Kahlo's spouse, in new BBC documentary
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2023 7:37 AM CST
Was Frida Kahlo's Death an Assisted Suicide?
In this April 14, 1939, file photo, painter and surrealist Frida Kahlo poses at her home in Mexico City.   (AP Photo/File)

"I hope the exit is joyful. And I hope never to come back." Researchers say that was the last entry in the diary of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, the culmination of years of physical suffering due to childhood polio, a trolley accident, multiple miscarriages, a possible birth defect, and, finally, a leg amputation from gangrene she's believed to have contracted during a surgery. But did Frida Kahlo actually kill herself—and did her husband help her? That's a question addressed in Becoming Frida Kahlo, a new three-part documentary series airing in March on the BBC, with an answer (sort of) provided by her husband's grandson.

When Kahlo died on July 13, 1954, her official cause of death was a pulmonary embolism brought on by pneumonia, but there were whispers she'd actually ODed on painkillers, reports CBS News. And per the Frida Kahlo Foundation, that overdose "may or may not have been accidental." Now, in the new BBC documentary, Juan Rafael Coronel Rivera, grandson of Kahlo's husband, muralist Diego Rivera, says his grandfather "probably" took part in his wife's suicide, in what the Guardian deems a "last act of love."

Coronel Rivera says that he thinks his grandfather "helped" Kahlo end her suffering, and that if that's what happened, so be it. "If your companion of life says, 'I'm tired, I really want to go now, help me'—well, maybe you try," he notes. This theory is bolstered by another entry in Kahlo's diary, in which she wrote, "I keep on waiting to kill myself," per CBS. An expert on the surrealist painter agrees that suicide, with Rivera's help, may have been Kahlo's true end. "We will never know if he ended her life, but if she asked him, I don't see him saying no," Luis-Martin Lozano tells the Guardian. (More Frida Kahlo stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.