Did Stress Lead Jackson to Seek the Ultimate Release?

The only silver lining to Michael Jackson's untimely demise is that with all the obituaries, we are being reminded of his tremendous musical contributions. From the adorable ten-year-old with the Jackson Five to the electric King of Pop, he brought us "Thriller," "Beat It," "Billie Jean" and the moonwalk, and became the biggest selling artist of all time. With that musical legacy revealed from under the garish garbage heap of tabloid scandal, virtually all agree that this two-time Rock & Roll Hall of Famer stands alongside Sinatra, Elvis and the Beatles in our pop cultural pantheon of heroes.

But that said, the death of Michael Jackson of what I believe was an accidental overdose of injectible painkillers, probably Demerol, is the least unexpected of any 50-year old I know.
During the hours we spent together, I never saw him eat. He was at times so thin as to be almost translucent. Even when he fed and cared for his children, which from what I witnessed he did superbly, he didn't feed himself. Addicted to pain killers for chronic back pain, he was coming out of a long and troubled retirement following acquittal on the 2005 child molestation charges, and trying to get back in shape, which would have been difficult for a healthy person.

Three months ago, after the grand announcement of the grandiose come-back concert tour in the U.K. I reported that he had yet to hire a choreographer or dancers and had yet to begin rehearsals. Insiders and family members complained to me and others that Michael had forsaken them and taken on a whole new cadre of advisers, all of whom had their hands out. Remember, this is the person I saw transform within an hour from confident public person to frightened manchild curled up on the couch in the fetal position and unable to face the world.

Paranoid, addicted, anorexic, anxious and far behind schedule in terms of preparation for the tour, he must have been profoundly stressed. So stressed I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me he sought the ultimate escape. Hopefully Peter Pan has returned to Neverland.

Geraldo Rivera is host of "At Large" on the FOX News Channel.