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The police report calls Costello's death a natural death — as though he just lay down and died. A coroner's report from the Fulton County Medical Examiner is still incomplete, pending the toxicology results. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The autopsy was released on June 3, after Creative Loafing went to press. It attributed Costello’s death to a combination of heroin, ephedrine, amphetamine and Librium, a prescribed anti-anxiety medication. The report also cited recent cocaine use. For more on the report, click here.)
Regardless of the results, those who knew Costello well think it was at least indirectly tied to his bipolar condition.
"There are more questions than answers, but even if there were answers none of them are definitive," Trubic says. "They don't matter. He's dead. If you're talking about demons and depression they should be used to catalyze a discussion about how the music business fucks with you on a daily basis and is not conducive to a normal lifestyle, and if you have a chemical disorder it makes it 10 times harder."
Costello's legacy reads like any number of the songs he loved so much as a blues innovator. In death, he joins the ranks of the musicians and legends whose craft he helped to carry on. And as frustrating as it may be, the real cause of his death is still not known.
In his wake, the family has created a fund for bipolar research and awareness, particularly among musicians. But Costello's mother prefers to discuss how his condition may have affected his life and his art – rather than his death.
"Do I think that it affected his music? Absolutely," she says. "There was a passion and a level of understanding in his music that people way older than me wouldn't get. He knew things that other people didn't know and felt things that other people never felt."
The loss of her son and the unanswered questions provoke more sadness than frustration. "What killed Sean isn't what matters," she says. "What matters is that gone is gone, and my son is gone."
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