Malcolm James McCormick, also known as Mac Miller, was officially pronounced dead on Friday, Aug. 7, by authorities who were dispatched to his San Bernardino home. The rapper and singer was just 26 years old.
Authorities say the cause of death was a drug overdose, for which there was a 911 call from one of Miller’s friends who claimed he was going into cardiac arrest. He was dead by the time police arrived on the scene.
Miller was very vocal about his relationship with drugs in his music and with media sources. The artist first began drinking lean — a drink containing codeine and juice — when he was 15 years old. However, the pressures he felt from being on television and witnessing other friends die from it led him to quit. He later took to using other drugs like cocaine and promethazine to deal with stress, especially after dropping his 2012 album Blue Slide Park.
Following his public breakup with Ariana Grande, the artist was also arrested on two counts of DUI — one for driving under the influence and another for operating a vehicle with a BAC above the legal limit. His vehicle was found decimated by authorities after he ran into a light pole and fled the scene. Many of Miller’s fans took to Twitter to blame Grande for his DUI, to which she responded with a lengthy but justified answer.
“How absurd that you minimize female self-respect and self-worth by saying someone should stay in a toxic relationship because he wrote an album about them … ” she said in a screenshot taken from her Notes app. “I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be. I have cared for him and tried to support his sobriety & prayed for his balance for years … but shaming / blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his shit together is a very major problem.”
Hours after the announcement of his death, Grande disabled her Instagram comments as they were flooded with hate from Miller’s fans who also blamed her for his death.
Miller’s death from overdose is one of many, and highlights the issue of drug abuse among entertainers everywhere. Although celebrities are frequently held in high regard by fans and the media, they also deal with mental illnesses which can be made worse by having to maintain a public persona or by facing heavy criticism. A report on celebrity deaths caused by drug overdose was released in 2009 by the National Center for Biology Information, and stated that substance abuse is “a disease that can result in depression, insomnia, personality changes, impaired judgment, and poor relationships … They form deadly combinations with barbiturates and other sedatives and with alcohol.”
Another 2013 article by the Huffington Post also discussed the trend of drug addiction in the entertainment industry.
“For celebrities and high-profile individuals, being under the microscope 24/7 and trying to maintain and project an aura of perfection and success can sometimes be too difficult to handle,” said author John Tsilimparis. “As a result, some stars turn to drugs and alcohol to cope and to try and manage the overwhelming pressure. Once the connection is made that drugs or alcohol can provide them some temporary relief, they may continue to do it despite knowing the negative consequences.”
Several celebrities and fans have since taken to social media to mourn Miller, proving that his death has certainly begun to take its toll on the world. Despite his young age, Miller created a platform that allowed him to openly discuss depression, drug addiction, heartbreak and loss. His impact on hip-hop will forever be appreciated by those who cherished his music and his soul.