Hutchence: coroner rules death was suicide

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The Independent Online
An Australian coroner has ruled that the singer Michael Hutchence committed suicide. The decision, says Andrew Buncombe, came as a surprise to many.

Michael Hutchence, the singer who for many epitomised the wild side of rock'n'roll, committed suicide while suffering from severe depression, it was announced earlier today.

Derek Hand, the coroner for the state of New South Wales, Australia, said the lead singer with the band INXS was in a "severe depressed state" as a result of his custody battle with Sir Bob Geldof, the former husband of his partner Paula Yates.

Mr Hand ruled that this, combined with a cocktail of alcohol, cocaine and prescription drugs led him to take his life. He ruled out previous theories that Hutchence, 37, may have died accidentally while engaged in auto-erotic experiments.

Hutchence was found naked hanging in his room from his belt at the Ritz- Carlton Hotel in east Sydney on 22 November last year. The coroner said that the singer had hanged himself with his belt and the buckle broke away, leaving his body kneeling on the floor. There was no one else involved in his death.

"I am satisfied that the cause of death was hanging. I am also satisfied that there was no other person involved in causing the death," Mr Hand said in a statement. "I am satisfied that the standard required to conclude that the death was a suicide has been reached. I am satisfied that the deceased intended and did take his own life."

The coroner said that Hutchence had consumed vodka, beer and champagne the night before his suicide and that blood tests showed he had also taken cocaine, Prozac and other prescription drugs.

The decision by the coroner came as something of a surprise. At the time of his death, it was pointed out that Hutchence, famous for songs such as "Suicide Blonde", had not left a suicide note and various people who had spoken to him the day before he died said he was in good spirits.