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Debunking the myth around Michael Hutchence's death


Michael Hutchence’s cause of death has been the source of speculation for decades. The fetishisation of this topic has sold countless newspapers and fuelled various documentaries, despite the truth seemingly acting as a secondary consideration.

It is widely assumed that Hutchence’s death resulted from an act of auto-eroticism. However, the coroner’s report categorically ruled out this possibility and stated: “There is no forensic or other evidence to substantiate this suggestion. I, therefore, discount that manner of death”.

Hutchence’s partner, Paula Yates, who was understandably distraught and grief-stricken after his death, first made the claims. At the time, Yates was desperate for answers and felt that it was in no way possible that he would have taken his own life. Yates stated that the absence of a suicide note established her belief that Hutchence’s death was accidental.

As Yates attempted to hypothesise on the circumstances around his death, she spoke publically about his experimental habits in the bedroom and suggested that it was a ritualistic sex experiment gone wrong. However, there was never any evidence that backed up her comment. Now, as time has passed, the speculation has been treated as truth.

Yates was grieving, and rather than judging her comments from that perspective, Channel 4 created a documentary, In Excess, with Yates, in which she talked in detail about Hutchence’s sexual appetite.

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This topic, understandably, became the talk of the tabloid press. It was plastered all over the front pages despite the coroner ruling out the possibility of his death being an outcome of autoeroticism. The coroner stated, “On consideration of the entirety of the evidence I am satisfied Hutchence was in a severe depressed state on the morning of November 22, 1997.”

Adding: “This was due to a number of factors, including the relationship with Paula Yates and the pressure of the ongoing dispute with Sir Robert Geldof, combined with the effects of the substances that he had ingested at that time. I am satisfied the cause of death was ‘hanging'”.

Sir Bob Geldof had prevented Yates from taking her daughter with Hutchence to Australia in order to visit the singer during the tour. The pressure of the situation had begun to beleaguer his mind, and for a moment, he felt as though there was no other way out. Hutchence spontaneously acted upon this emotion.

Additionally, Hutchence had previously been proscribed Prozac a few weeks before his death to treat his depression. Furthermore, an analysis report of his blood shows he had alcohol, cocaine, Prozac and prescription drugs in his system.

On the night of his death, Hutchence dined with his father before friends visited his hotel room before leaving at 5am the following morning. His friends later commented that Hutchence’s mood was “elevated however pensive when discussing court proceedings”.

Before taking his own life, Hutchence entered a heated conversation on the phone with Geldof, who claimed the singer was “hectoring and abusive and threatening”. The fear of having his child taken away from him, combined with his crippling reliance on substances to distract him from proceedings, only enhanced the problems.

Hutchence hid his depression from those closest to him, a factor that made it difficult to recognise how grave his situation had become. Meanwhile, the lack of a suicide note suggests an unmediated death, and the mind-altering drugs he’d consumed also led to the fatal incident.