Matthew Perry's Official Cause Of Death Is Heartbreaking

Matthew Perry died at 54 years old in October 2023. Though an announcement of his official cause of death was deferred until medical examinations could be completed, it has now been determined to be "the acute effects of ketamine," according to TMZ.

Although Perry had ketamine infusion therapy to help with his depression and anxiety, that infusion was not what caused his death due to the length of time between his last infusion and when he died. TMZ reported that the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner said the ketamine "caused both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression" for Perry. Among the contributing factors to his death were drowning and coronary artery disease, as well as the effects of buprenorphine, which is used in treatment of opioid addiction.

Perry is most known for his role as Chandler Bing on the sitcom "Friends" and has been honored by many friends and fans who loved him since his passing.

Matthew Perry had spoken of his legacy after struggles with addiction

Matthew Perry had been open and honest about his history with addiction, but things were apparently looking up for the "Friends" star in the time before his death. He had moved into the home where he died just three weeks earlier, and sources close to him claim he had "never been happier," per TMZ. The outlet's coverage of the medical examiner's reports notes "no evidence of alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, PCP or fentanyl." 

Though the report does not indicate how often Perry was receiving ketamine treatments immediately before he died, he had previously been receiving infusions approximately every two days. A new doctor who took over his treatments six months before his death reportedly prescribed a decrease in frequency.

In the weeks that followed Perry's death, fans and loved ones flooded the internet with tributes, including some devastating comments from his "Friends" co-stars and collaborators. He wrote in his 2022 memoir "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing" that he hoped his advocacy for those struggling with addiction would be his greatest legacy. He told People at the time, "Maybe if they hear a story from somebody they've seen on TV that's worse or the same as theirs, they'll be filled with hope."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Matthew Perry never blamed anyone

Though his loss is undeniably devastating to his fans, friends, and loved ones, it was clear that Matthew Perry saw his life story as one of victory that he hoped could inspire others. Speaking to People upon the release of his memoir just one year before he died, the actor placed significant emphasis on his gratitude for everything he had. "I don't really blame anybody for what I've been through," he explained. "It's a disease. I have it and so do more than 10 million other people."

While it might be easy to speculate that the fame of being on such a massively popular show as "Friends" caused his struggles, Perry was quick to credit his castmates for their support, and to note that his addictions had already begun to take hold before he took on the role of Chandler at the age of just 24. "They were understanding, and they were patient," he told People of his co-stars. "It could be said that [doing the show] saved me."

When discussing his own transformation over the course of his career, Perry made it clear that his time on "Friends" would always be with him — in part because he felt so close to the character of Chandler Bing. In "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing," he wrote, "It wasn't that I thought I could play 'Chandler,' I was Chandler."