How Michael Jackson died

Will an autopsy fully explain what killed the "King of Pop"?

Officially, Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest, said Jocelyn Vena in MTV News. An autopsy on Friday could provide the first clues on specifics. But the Los Angeles County coroner's report might point to the need for toxicology reports, and it could be weeks before the results are made public.

Cardiac arrest—yes, that's obvious, said Stuart Heritage in Heckler Spray. But "what caused the cardiac arrest, that’s the real issue." Not long ago there were reports that Michael Jackson had a progressive lung disease, then there was talk of skin cancer. "Michael Jackson wasn’t exactly short on ailments, was he?"

There is "growing speculation that the singer's long-term use of painkillers could have been a factor" in his death, said Daniel Nasaw in Britain's The Guardian. Reports in one newspaper—the Sun—suggested that Jackson "may have collapsed after an injection of Demerol, a powerful painkiller that can in certain circumstances increase the risk of cardiac arrest. The singer became addicted to Demerol and morphine during his 2003 trial for child sex abuse."

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"Michael Jackson's death came as a shock," said Erica Pearson in the New York Daily News, "but to some, the real surprise was that he made it to 50." Jackson's lawyer, Brian Oxman, said he warned Jackson of the danger of abusing prescription drugs. And "for much of his adult life, he seemed to be disintegrating before our eyes—gaunt, pale, in a wheelchair or bandaged from yet another" cosmetic surgery.

In a very real way, said Bill Wyman in Salon, Michael Jackson's death was a suicide—no matter what the coroner says—"just as Elvis Presley's was some three decades ago." Both were pop music gods who had no idea what it was like to live a normal life. "Like Presley, Jackson at some point stepped through a door, closed it, and turned the key. What went on behind the door we'll never know."

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