Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger had it all....right?

What the world trumpets as sufficient for happiness, actor Heath Ledger had in superabundance: People Magazine's Top 100 Beautiful People, critical accolades, box office success, role offers, a string of gorgeous women, and, most poignant of all, a beautiful young daughter.

But he killed himself.  And let's assume in charity that he was suffering from depression or drug addiction.  

But dammit, couldn't he have hung on for that precious little girl's sake?  People in far worse shape manage to crawl into rehab...

May the Lord Jesus Christ come to meet him and be merciful to him, and to all those who throw away God's greatest gift.


Anonymous Tom said...

How could you not be depressed having memories of playing full contact sports with his fellow shepherdress?

1:04 PM

Blogger laura said...

Yes, is anyone talking about that? I always wonder if it bothers actors(tresses) when they play the ugly, fat, unlikable or evil character in a film. Could this "historic" role have bothered him?

Unrelated: how's your book comin' along?

10:16 AM

Blogger Patrick said...

Hey guys. "Depressed"? "Bothered by"? No, I suspect Heath had few moral qualms about warming up the ol' pup tent with Jake. You never know, though.

The book is proceeding. I'm working half days until it's DONE. In fact, I'm in a public library right now, diligently avoiding working on it this second. I feel like a cold's coming on and I'm low on energy, and also, WAAAAAHHHHH! Thanks for asking, L!

5:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine," the office said in a short statement.

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

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are painkillers. Diazepam is an anti-anxiety drug commonly sold under the brand name Valium; alprazolam is also an anti-anxiety drug, sold under such names as Xanax. Temazepam, sold under such names as Restoril and Euhypnos, is a sleeping agent, as is doxylamine.

An autopsy done on the actor January 23 was inconclusive. Interactive: A look back at Heath Ledger's life »

In a statement released through Ledger's publicist, Ledger's father, Kim, said Wednesday: "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

11:57 AM

Blogger Patrick said...


Your "FYI," I'm sorry to say, adds needless confusion. First, if you think my goal is to point fingers at the late Mr. Ledger, you'd be wrong.

But open your eyes. He killed himself. He may not have used a shot gun or jump out his window and, on his last afternoon on this earth, he *may* not have intentionally gulped down six (!) different pain meds and other psychotropic drugs in order to cause his death.

But just because it happened in slow motion doesn't make it a morally neutral "accidental" death. Some people just get sick of being sick and end up shutting down, finally succumbing to passive aggression against themselves. This isn't a rare m.o, especially for one with no substantial relationship to Christ. And even then addicts can take their lives.

Michelle Williams stated publically that she left him over his addictions, which were certainly not limited to "doctor-prescribed pain medication." I watched a clip of him being interviewed when "Casanova' came out, and he was a wreck -- incoherent, out of it, and "covertly" chugging a wine bottle at 3 PM.

I take no pleasure in posting this clip, but this whitewashing of his true condition really bothers me:

An inconclusive autopsy is worthless. The word "accidental" is something that family members (and "publicists") instinctively glom onto, for very understandable reasons.

What emerges is a picture of a talented young man who was royally screwed up, seriously addicted to a variety of drugs and therefore out of control of his life, and, in the end, let himself drift into oblivion.

As I said in my post, I do pray for his soul, and hope the loved ones he left, especially his two-year-old girl, can find peace and healing.

2:18 PM

Blogger Michael said...

I can agree with your point, P.C.

Whether or not he intended to that night, Mr. Ledger did kill himself, in the same sense that an alcoholic kills his liver over time and eventually dies of it. It might not be in one swift action, but in the end, it's all just as lethal.

Of course, this in no way diminishes the tragedy of anyones passing, famed actor or not.

I've been on various prescriptions for insomnia, and I've experienced the incredible power of some of those medications firsthand. You'd be surprised how easily one who is not depressed can accidentally take too much. Many sleeping medications have the side effect of retrograde amnesia - more than once I've forgotten that I've already taken my dosage for the night and taken a second pill inadvertently. This has occurred on more than one occasion, and thankfully my girlfriend has corrected me several times.

Couple the dangers of these drugs with depression, celebrity lifestyle, etc. and you have a quick recipe for suicide, intentional or not.

Either way, as P.C. pointed out, the most pressing concern right now is for his daughter and loved ones.

Tom/Laura: Hope your alluding to Heath's role in "Brokeback" as a slightly off-color joke and are not suggesting that his suicide had anything to do with a movie role.

Laura: Apparently, many actors prefer playing the "evil" characters in films, citing that they are more fun to play...I'm pretty certain he read the script prior to taking the role. So I doubt the subject matter made him queasy.

2:56 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Hey, Mike.

Well, yes, that's kinda my point. I'm not a big fan of insomnia meds myself. Seems the net effect is not better, for reasons you've already started to feel. I'm no psychiatrist, nor have I played one on TV, but I understand most insomnia is related to objective life things, which call for attention and resolution. I do know that the brain is a highly sublime, delicate set of neuronetworks. All drugs made today -- no exceptions -- act like a blunt-edged instrument, or a shot gun that takes out other processes along with "fixing the problem."

And I have no doubt about the addictive quality of the meds you mention.

3:19 PM

Anonymous michael said...

Bill Mahar put it best when he quoted his doctor as saying that "the cause of a headache is not aspirin deficiency". And there is definitely an underlying cause of my insomnia, namely my hectic lifestyle.

Such medications are only band aids, but sometimes you gotta let the air get to the wound. Anti-depressants, in some cases, are a different story...but don't tell Tom Cruise cuz' he'll unleash the thetans on me.

5:55 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

That reminds me. I have hydrocodone in the cupboard. Woo!

12:15 AM

Blogger Patrick said...

PDP, why won't you call me?

2:02 PM

Blogger Justine said...

Just stopping by to say "hi" and see if you're done with that book yet.

7:28 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

Alas, not quite. Prayers for the project soooo appreciated.

Always glad to hear from you, Miss J.

1:25 PM


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