Death of an Actor

The evidence points to Philip Seymour Hoffman having died of an overdose. Since his death was announced, and for days afterwards, stories and segments abounded, all related to his struggle with addiction and the loss of a great artist. No matter the subject linked to his death, what was forefront it seems was the compassion that colleagues, critics, the public or all involved expressed towards what cut short a promising life and career. People die of an overdose every day, and we label them, criticize them, condemn them, ignore them, whatever will convey our distaste and negative view of addiction. True, we may not know them, but then we really didn’t know Philip Seymour Hoffman either. Yet because we think we knew him we are willing to grant him understanding, and look upon his addiction with compassion. And in the same way his death opened the opportunity for us to know the new face of contemporary heroin addiction, let’s hope it will guide us away from our double standard of having compassion for actors who overdose but not for the nameless others. Let’s hope it takes us towards a greater understanding of addicts and addiction wherever they may be.