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article imageOp-Ed: Whitney Houston's death worthy of sadness not condemnation

By Yukio Strachan     Feb 16, 2012 in Entertainment
It was shortly after 7:15pm on Saturday evening, when I first heard the announcement that Whitney Houston had died in her hotel room.
While researching a story for an article, I happened to glance at the website's side bar and there it was, "Whitney Houston dead at the age of 48."
Yeah right, I thought to myself, this is nothing but the same hoax they played on Cher a couple weeks ago, Whitney's not dead.
On Facebook, my friends reacted the same way, "That's the same thing I thought, Yukio," said Latrice, my friend from elementary school.
Comments on Twitter echoed Facebook.
"If @AP is wrong about this, I'm DONE with them. #whitney," tweeted New York Times Opinion Columnist Charles Blow referring to the Associated Press report on Houston's death. "I was having dinner, but this Whitney Houston has upset me so that I've lost my appetite..."
And so did I.
I grew up listening to her music. The Greatest Love of all was the first song I memorized all the words to and the first song I listened to and watched on YouTube after I let it sink in that she had died.
As I mouthed the words to the lyrics, I laughed as I remembered being a young girl bracing myself for the moment in a singing competition, that a girl who could barely reach the mic, would take a deep breath and sing "I believe the children are our future..."
It didn't matter if the words were correct or if they hit the song's explosive high notes, it only mattered that they were, at that moment in time, Whitney.
Now she's dead.
'Houston wanted to kill herself'
“There were no obvious signs of foul play,” Lt. Mark Rosen, a spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department, said. “It’s still fresh an investigation to know whether — the reality is she was too far too young to die and any time you have the death of someone this age it is the subject of an investigation.”
But law enforcement sources told CBS News that while there were no illegal substances found in Houston's hotel room, there were prescription drugs.
Media reports of possible prescription drugs in her room, alluding to overdose, made it sorely tempting to assign Whitney Houston chief blame in her own death.
"Whether or not drugs were involved in Houston's death, her well-publicized battles with addiction should serve as a lesson for everyone to steer away from drugs," wrote Steve Angeles with ABS-CBN News.
Others say she should have left R&B bad boy and former New Edition front man Bobby Brown much earlier, a man who cut her head off in pictures, a man who slapped her and spit in her face, using Houston as a human punching bag. And still others take the faith route saying had Whitney really trusted in the Lord and had faith, she too would have risen above her demons, because God is able.
Or if you let Fox host Bill O'Reilly tell it, "Whitney Houston wanted to kill herself." he said on his show Monday night, the Huffington Post reported. "Nobody takes drugs for that long if they want to stay on the planet. She follows in the footsteps of Elvis, Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, and scores of other entertainment figures. The hard truth is that some people will always want to destroy themselves."
"I'm not a person who wants to die," Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in 2002. "I'm a person who has life and wants to live."
She wanted to live.
“Ten years from now, give me the perfect life for Whitney Houston,” Sawyer asked in that 2002 interview.
Houston said she saw herself in 2012 “retired. Sitting, looking at my daughter grow up, become a great woman of God, grandchildren.”
She wanted to live.
Understanding Drug Addiction
Sayings such as Houston wanted to kill herself and other "repeated cautionary warnings has demonstrated its limitations, perhaps because the cautions do not respect the individual when they exhort change without understanding," said Vincent J. Felitti, MD, Co-Principal Investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, the largest-scale study to date of the incidence and effects of childhood trauma.
Addiction is best viewed as an "unconscious although understandable decisions being made to seek chemical relief from the ongoing effects of old trauma, often at the cost of accepting future health risk,”Felitti writes.
The New York Times reported that "In the mid-2000s Ms. Houston went to rehab at least twice, and she was in rehab again as recently as last year."
When rehab fails, the research found, the person who is addicted may not be the one at fault, but the program itself. For rehab to be beneficial, some treatment programs may need to restructure in order to "deal with underlying causes rather than to focus on substance withdrawal."
If it does come back that Houston's death was drug related, my hope is that her death helps our society to have more compassion for those who suffer under the weight of addiction instead of condemnation.
Compassion does not mean condoning the behavior. It does mean understanding what causes the behavior and being ready to look at our own behavior that may fuel addiction in others.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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