More than a year after Rick “Zombie Boy” Genest was found dead, a coroner has ruled that his death was an accident, not a suicide, as previous reports suggested.
Genest, a 32-year-old actor and model known for his high-profile collaborations with celebrities like Lady Gaga, was found dead near an apartment in the Plateau-Mont-Royal area of Montreal last August. Police sources said then that Genest fell to his death from the apartment’s balcony and his death was categorized as a suicide, CBC reported.
However, the Coroner’s Office of Quebec said Monday, October 28, that Genest’s death was actually accidental. Coroner Mélissa Gagnon announced that the office’s investigation into Genest’s passing was complete, and it concluded that Genest died from head trauma that he sustained after accidentally falling from the third-floor balcony of a relative’s home.
Although an autopsy confirmed the presence of alcohol and marijuana in his system at the time of the fall, the office said that its investigation did not “reveal a clear and unequivocal intention to end his life.”
Genest, known for his piercings and hundreds of distinctive tattoos, was featured in Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” music video, in addition to numerous fashion campaigns. Following his death, many who shared their condolences online suggested that his mental health was a factor in his passing.
The office addressed the reports of suicide in its statement, a translated version of which reads, “Regarding the suicide hypothesis, which has been repeatedly reported in the media in the moments following Mr. Genest's death, the medical records indicate that he had already consulted for mental health issues. Some relatives reported hearing voices, especially while eating. However, Mr. Genest did not seem to be in a state of psychosis or delirium when he went out on the balcony.”
“Moreover, according to the testimonies of his relatives, Mr. Genest was happy,” their statement continues. “He was very motivated by his many artistic projects, he was well surrounded and he had just become engaged. For the coroner, the investigation does not reveal a clear and unequivocal intention to end his life.”
Following Genest’s death, Gaga offered her condolences and made a statement regarding mental health.
“The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating,” read her initial tweet, which has since been deleted. “We have to work harder to change the culture, bring Mental Health to the forefront and erase the stigma that we can’t talk about it. If you are suffering, call a friend or family today. We must save each other.”
After receiving backlash for her statements, Gaga apologized for speaking too soon, writing, in part, “I in no way meant to draw an unjust conclusion My deepest condolences to his entire family and friends.”
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