It's easy to categorize the death of Johnson & Johnson heiress Casey Johnson as another privileged girl who sought fame but was swallowed in the process. But this would miss obvious evidence that she was a relatively normal girl thrust into the spotlight by birth, who showed tell-tale signs of mental illness. Her wealth and title only ensured her troubles played out in a bizarre public setting.
In the end, there was no glamour. She died penniless, having been cut off by her parents who were desperately trying to force her to seek help. One can only imagine their horror as they watched their daughter be preyed on by vampires such as Tila Tequila who sought to shamelessly exploit Casey's vulnerable state for personal gain (and continues to do so on twitter). For people like Tila, Casey's death is simply a PR event, one where the biggest question is what to tweet next. Mind you, although Tequila was Casey's self-professed fiancee, she hadn't seen Casey for five days prior to her passing.
Unfortunately, this distasteful sideshow, along with Casey's name brand heiress status eclipses the unglamorous reality of girl who clearly couldn't sort herself out health-wise, and sought refuge in increasingly destructive and public manners. By several accounts, she didn't seem to care all that much about money or fame, and even turned down a role on The Simple Life which propelled Nicole Richie along with Paris Hilton into celebutante stardom.
Perhaps if money was her driving force, she would have done her best seek treatment, even if halfheartedly to turn back on the money spicket and position herself for some sort of career. But she didn't. Or perhaps she would have sought treatment so she could have regained custody and care of her adopted daughter. But she didn't. Why not? Perhaps because those who are mentally ill are unable to reason rationally.
What everyone will see is the red carpet pictures, the beautiful dresses, the shots with childhood friends Nikki and Paris Hilton, and the "crazy" sideshows, but what they won't see is the inner turmoil that this girl dealt with which included being diagnosed with diabetes at an early age. They probably won't cut through the social facade or block out all the buzzwords such as "socialite" and "heiress" that her life invoked. They no doubt will read the inevitable society piece covering her "charmed" life in Vanity Fair, but alas they most likely loose sight of the fact that her undoing was not some over-indulged death spiral, but rather untreated health issues.
Cynics will say, so what? Many people deal with these ailments and don't have a fraction of the padding of wealth and means. But this would miss the point entirely. Her wealth could do nothing to improve her quality of life or protect her well-being. It was and is irrelevant. She had to make a choice to seek help, and she was unable or unwilling to do so. It's easy to see how meaningless material things are to someone dying of cancer, but much harder to grasp this concept when it involves an intangible disease like mental illness.
What is certain is that she will inevitably be overshadowed by her death and the circus that preceded it. Friends and family will have to endure seeing who they know being depicted as who the media wants to see. Was she a nice person? Was she a good person? You'd have to ask her family or one of her friends. But perhaps avoid asking one of the Hilton sisters, try asking a grade school teacher.