Most people (in the UK and Ireland at least) will have heard by now about the tragic death of 25 year old Peaches Geldof. Peaches was the middle daughter of Irish musician Bob Geldof (of Live Aid fame) ,and after years of British tabloid coverage, plus a career in writing, modeling and TV, she was a celebrity in her own right. At the moment, we don’t know, how or why Peaches died, as her post-mortem results were inconclusive… but this brings me to the second tragic death that I want to write about: the musician Elliott Smith,
I came across the tragic musician Elliott Smith, in an article I was reading about Peaches Geldof. Apparently she was a big fan of his, and mentioned him several times in tweets before she died :
In the weeks before she died, Peaches Geldof revealed her admiration for an artist who committed suicide by stabbing himself through the heart after struggling with addiction to drink and drugs.
“The 25-year-old wrote movingly of Elliott Smith, an American songwriter who is thought to have killed himself at the age of 34 in California after enduring years of mental illness and addiction problems.
Miss Geldof, a prolific poster on the social media site Twitter, wrote how the critically-acclaimed musician had been inspired to write songs that arose from his mental anguish.
Her comments are certain to invite speculation about her mental state in the days leading up to her death. Her former publicist Ray Levine, responding to the news, said: “Peaches lived with a deep sadness from childhood.”
A month ago she wrote a lengthy post on the meaning behind Smith’s song “Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands”, which she described as “his most vitriolic song” about friends who sought to rescue him from drug abuse.
Elliott Smith had a history of depression, substance abuse and alcohol abuse. He was a troubled, sensitive soul, and he was obviously in a massive amount of emotional pain. He was also prescribed a massive amount of psychiatric drugs over his short life:
For several years, he had been taking liberal mixtures of antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety agents, anti-seizure medication, amphetamine-based attention-deficit-disorder medication, antidepressant-based ADD medication, and narcotic painkillers.
He had reduced his prescription intake to five drugs: Klonopin, an anti-convulsant tranquilizer; Remeron, a semi-sedative antidepressant; Strattera, a non-stimulant ADD treatment; Neurontin, which treats partial seizures; and Adderall, a nice way of saying “speed.”
He was also prescribed Paxil (Seroxat/Paroxetine):
Friends staged interventions. There were hospitalizations. At some point, he told me, aided by Paxil, he simply willed himself back into the light with this personal mantra:
Things are going to work out and I am never going to stop insisting that things are going to work out.
Elliott Smith killed himself by stabbing himself in the heart. Depression does not make people kill themselves in these violent ways, but depression aided by psychiatric drug side effects does. It was not until the SSRI age that we saw such an inordinate amount of violent self harm, suicide, homicide etc amongst the depressed and anxious demographic. These drugs make you dream of violence, you literally sleep dreaming of violence, so imagine what they are like when you are awake?
From someone who has suffered from depression, and from someone who has also been prescribed psychiatric drugs (Seroxat/Paxil in my case) I can honestly say that it was very likely the psychiatric drugs that killed Elliott Smith. The medication merry-go round destroyed him. However, of course when someone famous dies, the media always focuses on the individual’s past problems with alcohol, illegal drugs, or the emotional disorder they were suffering from, their personalities, personal life, or their psychiatric diagnosis. Rarely, if ever, are the multitudes of psychiatric drugs mentioned as a possible cause, because these lethal drugs are legal. These drugs are prescribed by your doctor, and ironically, these drugs (and the companies that make and push them) are protected more by the law then you, or I, or anyone else… that’s the real tragedy…
RIP Peaches Geldof.
and RIP Elliott Smith…