Tuesday, February 4, 2014

In the News: Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

I was saddened and shocked to learn of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death this past weekend. As details have emerged, authorities believe the cause of death is an accidental overdose. It has been reported that in addition to the 50 bags of heroin discovered, there were six bottles of prescription drugs in Hoffman's apartment--some prescribed to the actor, others unknown. Reports state authorities are trying to find the dealers who sold Hoffman the heroin and are investigating whether the drug was mixed or tainted with anything else.

It's not like celebrities dying of drug overdoses is anything new. That doesn't, however, lessen the tragedy of a life lost. That a person can be so seen as so talented by his peers and the rest of us, yet, still need to turn to drugs is a sad commentary on the entertainment industry. All the fame and fortune can't buy happiness. We see it time and time again: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, and more. Though some of these deaths were caused by illegal drugs, at times, prescription drugs are involved. Are drugs too easy to get? Why are they considered the answer to problems? Are doctors too quick to prescribe medication to their patients?

I don't have the answers, but I truly believe in what John Donne wrote in his Meditation #17 from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

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