Health Information Heard Round the World

July 29, 2009
Lisa Schulmeister

Michael Jackson's health history is front page news.

When it was announced on June 25 that Michael Jackson was dead, the public immediately wanted to know what happened. Jackson's sudden and unexpected death led to a great deal of speculation about what the media called his "long history of confirmed health problems and rumored conditions." Almost immediately, reports of Jackson's health history made their way around the world.

Reports of Jackson's alleged conditions included vitiligo and lupus. He was reported to have been burned in 1984 from a special effects fire that occurred during the filming of a commercial. In December 1995, he was suspected to be dehydrated after he collapsed onstage in New York. These, and other confirmed and suspected health conditions were detailed in media reports.

Whenever someone as young and well-known as Jackson dies, it's understandable that his fans will crave details about what happened. And now that fans' reactions and comments are able to be posted on the Internet while Jackson's body was still warm, so to speak, it's interesting to read how people expressed their shock and disbelief.

Several people posting comments on various sites admonished others for their morbid curiosity and appetite for details. After all, Jackson was dead so why did it matter how it happened? Other people publicly considered all kinds of possibilities, including drug abuse and even murder. The thing that amazed me most was the number of people who felt the need to know, and comment on, Jackson's health history instead of his impressive achievements in the entertainment industry. Regrettably, a person's health history, and especially the health history of a well-known person, is not a private matter.