The death of Gary Coleman has elicited reactions of surprise and sadness from Americans who had come to know and love the actor through his role on the popular situation comedy Diff’rent Strokes during the late 70s and early 80s.
However, what is not being discussed in the mainstream media, what is being assiduously avoided, are the obvious questions: is it certain how Coleman sustained his deadly head injury, and why did his wife “pull the plug” on her husband only hours after he was put on life support, and only two days after he entered the hospital?
Coleman was hospitalized on May 26 after sustaining a traumatic head injury that was severe enough to cause bleeding inside of his skull. The injury was said to have resulted from a fall. Still, the severity of the injury, other issues surrounding his death and events in the recent past would seem to have called for at least a preliminary police investigation.
It is public knowledge that the Coleman and his much larger wife, Shannon Price, had a stormy, conflictive relationship that led to her arrest in 2009 on charges of domestic violence. Coleman, who was also irascible, was also arrested on abuse charges early this year.
Despite the disturbing circumstances surrounding Coleman’s death, the Santaquin police chief, Dennis Howard, told People Magazine that “there was absolutely nothing suspicious about [Coleman’s] death. There is no [criminal] investigation going on.”
Coleman has been presented in the media as a man whose life and health were in decline. However, his health problems were fundamentally related to his kidney disease, which reportedly required regular dialysis. Kidney diseases do not cause traumatic head injuries — that requires a heavy force applied to the head. That force could have resulted from any number of causes, ranging from something as innocent as a slip in the bathtub, to something as sinister as a blow from a heavy blunt object.
After his arrest in January of this year on domestic abuse charges, Coleman appeared on The Insider, a celebrity gossip show, to give his own side of the story. During a heated exchange with one of the show’s guests, who insisted that he answer the question of whether or not he had abused his wife, Coleman strangely pointed to an injury on his head and said that he had received the wound from a fall down the stairs, and didn’t want anyone to think that his wife had hit him — a comment that was taken by some to indicate that he was implying the opposite in an attempt to defend himself.
Days after the incident that eventually took his life, Price and her family have been strangely reticent about giving details regarding the cause of his injury. They only claim he somehow “fell,” with no further explanation.
The apparent ease with which Coleman’s life was ended especially raises questions about the culture of death that has seemingly become the norm in American and European hospitals.
A person on life support, even for a few hours, is vulnerable to being dismissed as a “vegetable” and his life terminated on the most flimsy criteria. Not only does such a standard indicate a distressing contempt for the sanctity of human life, but it also opens the possibility of serious abuses by relatives or friends, who might have a conflict of interest in making such a decision.