NASHVILLE, TENN.—The criticism of Dr. Drew Pinsky spread on the Internet almost as quickly as news of Mindy McCready’s death.
The country singer with the tumultuous personal life became the fifth cast member of his Celebrity Rehab series to die since appearing on the show and the third from Season 3. The previous deaths stirred up rumours of a curse and a debate about the show’s helpfulness, and McCready’s apparent suicide upped the pitch of the reaction.
While many noted that Drew took on hard cases, others rendered stark judgment. Singer Richard Marx on Twitter compared Pinsky to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the so-called suicide doctor: “Same results.”
Marx backed off later Monday, saying the crack went too far. But he restated his thoughts in a way that summed up much of the reaction in the first 24 hours since the 37-year-old McCready’s death Sunday afternoon in Heber Springs, Ark.
“It is, however, my opinion that what Dr. D does is exploitation and his TV track record is not good,” Marx wrote.
VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew is not currently on the air. Pinsky switched his focus to non-celebrities in Season 6 last fall and changed the title to Rehab. The show spawned two spinoffs, Sober House and Sex Rehab.
Pinsky diagnosed McCready with “love addiction” during the series. In an interview with The Associated Press several months later, he said McCready had a good shot at recovery if she remained in treatment.
“Like with anybody I treat, it’s really up to them,” Pinsky said. “If she does the work it will be great.”
Three years later, she’s dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
Pinsky wasn’t immediately available for comment, his publicist said, but he issued a statement Sunday night that noted he’d spoken with McCready recently.
“She is a lovely woman who will be missed by many,” the statement said. “Although I have not treated her for a few years, I had reached out to her recently upon hearing about the apparent suicide of her boyfriend and father of her younger (child). She was devastated. Although she was fearful of stigma and ridicule she agreed with me that she needed to make her health and safety a priority. Unfortunately it seems that Mindy did not sustain her treatment.”
A lack of continued treatment also appears to have led to the deaths of McCready’s Season 3 castmates Mike Starr, bassist for Alice in Chains, and Joey Kovar, a Real World participant. Los Angeles riots spark Rodney King and actor Jeff Conaway also have passed away. Starr and Kovar overdosed and King was found dead in his pool with alcohol and marijuana in his system. Conaway was initially thought to have overdosed, but died of pneumonia and an infection.