Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ledger's Death Ruled Accidental

In case you were waiting for the results, like I was, UPI has released a statement.
NEW YORK, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Heath Ledger's death has been ruled an accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications, the New York City Medical Examiner's office said.

The cause of the Australian actor's Jan. 22 death in Manhattan was announced Wednesday.

An initial autopsy conducted shortly after Ledger died proved inconclusive and the medical examiner waited for the results of toxicology tests before determining the cause of death.

A statement released by the office said Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.

"We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications," the statement said.


Dave said...

I hope this question doesn't come across as harsh or insensitive, but I just have to ask, what was his need or intention to have all those drugs in his system?

I have worked with clients using psychotropic meds for almost twenty years and it seems to me that either he was using these substances "recreationally" to get a buzz (or he was addicted from previous misuse) - or he was under the care of a seriously unprofessional clinician who was giving him way more than was needed.

This is a "better" explanation than a finding that he committed suicide, but please... that is a crazy drug cocktail to have in one's system. To me, it doesn't diminish the sense of terrible wastefulness of his death. Rather, it creates a lot of regret that someone wasn't keeping a closer eye on him and his use of medications.

I just saw on TV tonight that Britney Spears was being fed Seroquel and Resperidol by this so-called manager who now has a restraining order against him. That is some seriously strong stuff - our nurses are very careful about who they give that to and how much - and we only use that with kids who are dealing with intense psychotic episodes. It really makes me angry to consider just how much heavy medication is being dispensed to people who might better be served by looking for alternatives to what the pharmaceutical industry is pushing.

julieunplugged said...

These are very good questions of course. I read way too many articles and have too much in my head to distill it all down. Basically it can be summed up in a couple of sentences like this:

He kept an insane schedule for Batman and the movie following. He filmed at night in London with walking pneumonia. At the same time, he was unable to sleep (sometimes less than 2 hours per night). He got used to taking Ambien for sleep but it hardly helped.

He was also given anti-depressants following the break up of his relationship with Michelle.

There was some talk that he had been prescribed meds by doctors in America, England and Australia.

Finally, some are saying that it's also possible that he got desperate for sleep and perhaps didn't even realize all he was mixing. He had even asked someone to call him that morning to wake him in case he overslept from meds.

So I think you have a person who was exhausted, sick, jet lagged and unsupervised with dangerous meds who didn't really take seriously enough the danger of mixing them.

Agreed. Tragic, wasteful loss.