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Plato’s Death Now Ruled a Suicide

May 21, 1999

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Former child actress Dana Plato died a suicide, not by accidental overdose as was initially believed, the state Medical Examiner’s Office ruled today.

Ms. Plato, who played Kimberly Drummond on the NBC sitcom ``Diff’rent Strokes″ from 1978 to 1984, died May 8 while visiting her fiance’s parents in Moore. She was 34.

Police initially said she died of an accidental drug overdose of a painkiller and Valium.

Dr. Larry E. Balding, the deputy medical examiner, said today that laboratory studies showed fatal concentrations of the painkillers carisoprodol and hydrocodone/acetaminophen in her blood and the equivalent of seven tablets of carisoprodol still in her stomach.

The medical examiner’s office ruled the death a suicide because of the high level of drugs and Ms. Plato’s past history of suicidal gestures. There was no note left.

The brief statement did not indicate how Ms. Plato had gotten the painkillers.

Ms. Plato had seen her share of troubles since the show was canceled. In 1991, she was arrested for robbing a Las Vegas video store and was placed on five years’ probation. In 1992 she was given another five years’ probation for forging prescriptions for Valium.

``If I hadn’t gotten caught, it could have been the worst thing that happened to me because I could have died of a drug overdose,″ she said then.

Ms. Plato had appeared on Howard Stern’s radio program in New York on May 7 to deny the claims of a former roommate who said Ms. Plato was on drugs. Ms. Plato said she had been sober for about 10 years, though she had taken painkillers when her wisdom teeth were removed four months earlier.

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