In September of 2015, actor and comedian Jim Carrey suffered a great loss when the body of his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Cathriona White, was discovered in her home after she took her own life. After writing a number of suicide notes, including one to Carrey, White swallowed a lethal dose of prescription pills with the expressed intent to end it all; in her note to Carrey she indicated she could go on, but she no longer wished to. She was just 30-years-old. Born and raised in Ireland, she was living in Los Angeles and working as a makeup artist in Hollywood; she first met Carrey on the set of a film in 2013 and the two began dating shortly thereafter. It is reported Carrey ended the relationship with White just days before her death, though Carrey stated he still loved her dearly and flew to Ireland to serve as a pallbearer at her funeral. Still in mourning, Carrey learned on Monday of this week he was being sued by White’s estranged husband, Mark Burton. Burton’s suit alleges Carrey is responsible for the wrongful death of White, accusing Carrey of “using his immense wealth and celebrity status to illegally obtain and distribute highly addictive and, in this case deadly, controlled substances.” In addition to undisclosed monetary damages, Burton is also seeking ownership of Carrey’s private jet.
Opportunists often come out of the woodworks with litigious charges after encounters with celebrities to try and legally extort money from them in the hopes of getting rich quick, but this lawsuit seems quite distasteful given the circumstances. Not only was Burton estranged from his wife, having never lived in the same home (or even the same state as her), close members of White’s family have expressed they had no idea she was even married. In his suit, Burton alleges Carrey obtained prescriptions for the drugs Ambien, Propranolol and Percocet under the name of “Arthur King” and gave them to White despite being aware of her past struggles with depression and a previous suicide attempt. While it is illegal to obtain prescription drugs under a pseudonym in the state of California, it is widely assumed many celebrities do so in order to protect their medical privacy and safety. Burton also claims Carrey tried to cover up his involvement in the case by sending a text message to White on the day of her death inquiring about the missing pills he kept under his bathroom sink. Burton further alleged Carrey had promised to pay for White’s funeral expenses but failed to do so, saying Carrey only said he would in order to “publicize his supposed generosity as it related to the death of White.”
Late Monday night, Carrey responded to the lawsuit in a statement provided to USA Today which read, “What a terrible shame. It would be easy for me to get in a back room with this man’s lawyer and make this go away, but there are some moments in life when you have to stand up and defend your honor against the evil in this world. I will not tolerate this heartless attempt to exploit me or the woman I loved. Cat’s troubles were born long before I met her and sadly her tragic end was beyond anyone’s control. I really hope that some day soon people will stop trying to profit from this and let her rest in peace.”
I find it hard to understand how this man, who had not seen or spoken to his estranged wife since their marriage, fails to see the irony in his attempt to hold Carrey accountable for White’s death by pursuing money and a private jet for himself. While extremely tragic and unfortunate, there is no evidence to substantiate the claims made by Burton, nor was Carrey present at the time of her death. As sad as it is, Ms. White chose to take her own life, thus indicating the young woman was deeply troubled to the center of her core. Many view suicide as the ultimate selfish act, but I disagree. Mentally healthy people do not decide one day to take a handful of pills, whether legally prescribed or not, in the expectation of ending their life simply because the drugs are available. It is painfully heartbreaking to know Ms. White was in so much emotional pain; it is even more heartbreaking to think anyone would want to profit off the death of another human being.
Burton has requested a jury trial (if his suit gets that far.) If it does, I hope he learns just how dreadful his actions are and that the only “reward” he receives is a court order requiring him to publicly apologize to Ms. White’s family, friends, and Mr. Carrey so that Cathriona may indeed, rest in peace.