The official ruling on the death of soul chanteuse Amy Winehouse was pronounced this morning by British coroner Suzanne Greenaway as “death by misadventure”. But that was really a polite way of saying that Winehouse drank herself to death.
According to the coroner’s report, Winehouse had a lethal amount of alcohol in her system that ranks at five times the British legal limit on drunk driving. Winehouse was found dead in her apartment last July, surrounded by empty bottles of vodka—“two large, one small,” according to the Associated Press and Detective Inspector Les Newman, who found her body.
Despite speculation that Winehouse, whose dark and troubling lyrics suggested depression, may have committed suicide, the death was ruled accidental. According to reports, Winehouse had begun to give up drinking and reportedly endured a period of abstinence just prior to her death. But in the end, the bender of late July shocked her system which had begun to clean itself out. The only surprise to come out of the coroner’s report was that Winehouse had no trace of illegal drugs in her blood, just a hint of a prescription drug which helped to reduce the side effects of alcohol withdrawal.
“Misadventure” strikes me as a foolish and misleading attribution of her death since it implies one-time recklessness. Even if Winehouse was on the mend, her death was the result of many years of a painful, powerful and self-destructive addiction.