The father of the late actor best known for his role as The Joker in "The Dark Knight" has announced that he has started a charity aimed at increasing awareness and education about the dangers of prescription drugs. Kim Ledger has named the charity Scriptwise and plans to target laws in his native Australia that allow doctors to prescribe the drugs too easily.
He hopes that challenging these laws will help the growing number of people in Australia and worldwide who are addicted to prescription meds. Ledger also says his charity will also focus on celebrities who are struggling with prescription drug abuse because all too often fame makes it too easy for celebs to acquire numerous prescriptions that make the risk of overdosing and death even higher.
Doctors and others are less likely to question celebrities because of their status. Ledger hopes his charity will do something to change a system that makes it possible for someone to go from doctor to doctor and build a large supply of drugs. One of the charity's main goals is the introduction of a monitoring system that will prevent drug shopping from happening. They hope that with a real time monitoring system in place, the number of people abusing drugs will significantly be reduced.
Ledger's own son died at age 28 from a deadly combination of six prescription drugs. The actor was found on January 22, 2008 in his Manhattan apartment shortly after completing shooting for The Dark Knight. Police found several prescription drugs in his apartment and no illegal drugs.
Toxicology reports revealed that the young actor's death was caused by a lethal combination of six prescription drugs found in his system: Valium and Xanax, which are commonly prescribed as anti anxiety drugs, a sleep aid called Restoril, the over the counter antihistamine Doxylamine, and painkillers hydrocodone and oxycodone. After investigating any for any suspicious circumstances surrounding Ledger's death, authorities concluded that the fatal overdose was an accident.
The actor had been struggling with severe insomnia after completing back to back filming on "I'm Not There" and "The Dark Knight". In one of his last interviews he admitted to only sleeping two hours a night because he had trouble calming his mind after working on such intense roles. Former co stars of Ledger's told the press that the actor had also been ill on the set of his last project. Ledger apparently had been battling a respiratory ailment.
On that morning, a housekeeper discovered Ledger laying face down in his bed with the sheets pulled up over his body. She heard him snoring, and went on with her duties. Later on in the day, a masseuse came by the apartment to give Ledger his scheduled massage. She discovered the actor unconscious and notified authorities. By the time emergency personnel arrived, it was already too late.
Family, friends, and fans mourned the death of a promising young actor who was poised to become one of his generation's best. Ledger was first introduced to American audiences in the 1999 teen comedy "10 Things I Hate About You". Ledger went on to take on notable roles in "The Patriot", "Monster's Ball", and "A Knight's Tale". Ledger was nominated for an Oscar for his role in "Brokeback Mountain" and won an Oscar posthumously for his work in "The Dark Knight". Ledger left behind a young daughter whom he had with former fiancee, actress Michelle Williams.