Mindy McCready — a country singer, mother, drug addict, possible ex-girlfriend of Roger Clemens, and former reality-show cast member — died on Sunday of an apparent suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot. She had multiple suicide attempts in her past. Her boyfriend died last month, also from a gunshot: a suicide, perhaps, but some suspicion was cast on McCready (here's an E! Online post entitled: "Mindy McCready's Dead Boyfriend David Wilson: 5 Burning Questions").
In other words, McCready was not one of Celebrity Rehab and Dr. Drew Pinksy's success stories. She was cast by VH1 in the third season of Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab because of her ongoing problems with pills and alcohol, which had crippled her career. McCready is the third person to die from her season of nine people: Mike Starr of Alice in Chains died in 2011 of an overdose, and former Real World-er Joey Kovar died last August from opiate intoxication. From other seasons, Jeff Conaway and Rodney King also have died. (An email to VH1 was not immediately returned. Pinsky's publicist sent a statement, appended below in its entirety, that said he is "deeply saddened," and stated in part: "Although I have not treated her for few years, I had reached out to her recently upon hearing about the apparent suicide of her boyfriend and father of her younger children. She was devastated.")
The video above shows McCready suffering from a seizure on camera (her season aired in early 2010). She seized in front of her roommate, Mackenzie Phillips (heroin addict and former child star), who thought she was making a joke, and laughed until she realized what was happening, then got help. That the person who recorded this scene off his television and uploaded it to YouTube, however, thought it was hilarious because of the seizure, strikes me as the terrible problem endemic to Celebrity Rehab. If you watched the show as a serious documentary, it had a lot to offer, and was unsparing and often moving. If you watched it as a hilarious spectacle, then — well, it's hard to figure out how to end this sentence, because I think you're awful. But reality TV sends these things out into the world, and there's no controlling what a viewer's reaction is going to be. It doesn't help that Dr. Drew has sometimes seemed like a fame addict himself.
Five deaths out of 43 people, even within a group of hardcore addicts that the show cast, seems like a lot. McCready won't be the last, either: A list of the 43 cast members over five seasons features a number of people who continue to appear in TMZ headlines for drug-related messes. Celebrity Rehab aired its last season in spring 2011, but it is clear that it will haunt Dr. Drew and VH1 for years to come.
Update: Here is the full statement from Pinsky.
I am deeply saddened by this awful news. My heart goes out to Mindy's family and children. She is a lovely woman who will be missed by many. Although I have not treated her for few years, I had reached out to her recently upon hearing about the apparent suicide of her boyfriend and father of her younger children. She was devastated. Although she was fearful of stigma and ridicule she agreed with me that she needed to make her health and safety a priority. Unfortunately it seems that Mindy did not sustain her treatment.
Mental health issues can be life threatening and need to be treated with the same intensity and resources as any other dangerous potentially life threatening medical condition. Treatment is effective. If someone you know is suffering please be sure he or she gets help and maintains treatment.
This article has been revised to include this statement.