What could we have done to save Amy Winehouse?

Death is perhaps the one certainty in life. Most of us think that our eventual demise will be in the distant future.

This wasn’t to be the case for the soulful, bluesy and angst-ridden young singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse.   

The news that the undoubtedly gifted 27-year-old award - winning Brit had died, alone in her flat in trendy Camden, northwest London and probably from a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol sounds like the dismal and clichéd end of life experienced by many immortalised rock stars like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

Amy’s physical and mental decline in the last few years has been the subject of intrusive reporting by the tabloid press in the UK and abroad. Drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, self-harming and a disastrous marriage to co-dependent substance abuser Blake Fielder-Civil led to a number of spells in rehab clinics. Paparazzi - published photos of her near emaciated frame, covered in unsightly and meaningless tattoos, staggering out of pubs and nightclubs in the early hours of the morning were splashed across the pages of celebrity obsessed magazines. No one needed a clairvoyant to predict the probable outcome of this tragic story.

However, like many others including fans and her contemporaries I’m shocked by the brutal suddenness of Amy’s death.

The immediacy of access to news and the sharing of information on the internet has made large sections of the public feel like participants in the lives of famous people like Amy rather than voyeurs. By following the minutiae of Amy’s turbulent life on newspaper websites like Mail Online they feel a connection with her which is beyond a simple appreciation of her music.   

The collective sharing of grief on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter at a life spoilt and cut short resonates with the personal experiences of those who have had an “Amy” in their lives: an alcoholic, neglectful parent or an abusive, addict partner. This outpouring of emotion should not be ridiculed.

I had an overwhelming feeling of sadness and underlying frustration when I heard about the final chapter of Amy’s life. It was the same sense of waste and futility I experienced on learning about Michael Jackson and even Paula Yates 11 years ago.

A while back Amy obtained an injunction against paparazzi photographers.  The court order banned a leading paparazzi agency from following her. Photographers were also banned from following her within 100 metres of her home and photographing Amy in her home or the home of her friends and family. According to a newspaper report, sources close to the singer said legal action was taken out of concern for the safety of Amy and those close to her.

Amy’s seemingly devoted father Mitch will be devastated I thought. Why wasn’t he with her or why wasn’t anyone with her? Why was she left on her own? I asked myself. She was weak and vulnerable.

A friend commented that if he was Amy's manager he’d have kept a watch on her 24/7.

What could I have done to help Amy? The answer is nothing. The reality is I didn’t know her.