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POLICE TO PROBE SUICIDE OF TALK SHOW HOST WHO HANGED SELF IN HOSPITAL.

Byline: Lee Condon Daily News Staff Writer

Glendale police said Monday they were investigating the death of game show host Ray Combs, who apparently committed suicide after being admitted to Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

``We are looking into the circumstances surrounding his death,'' said Sgt. Rick Young. ``There's a lot of speculation at this point. I don't know for sure what kind of watch he was on.''

Alicia Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the medical center, said Monday that the hospital would have no comment on Combs' death.

Glendale officers brought Combs, the 40-year-old former host of the ``New Family Feud,'' to the hospital Saturday afternoon after they found him tearing up the interior of his Sonora Avenue home.

Combs, apparently distraught over his pending divorce, was placed under a 72-hour observation hold for mental problems.

But by 4 a.m. Sunday, 18 hours later, he was dead.

Young said Combs hanged himself with his bedsheets in the closet of a psychiatric ward room where he had been placed.

While patients on suicide watch are usually deprived of any item that could be used to harm themselves, Young said Combs may have convinced a doctor that it was safe to let him have bedsheets.

``If the doctor felt he was completely out of control, they probably wouldn't have put him in a room with sheets,'' Young said.

Combs did not leave behind a suicide note and did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Young said.

Combs was a native of Hamilton, Ohio, about 25 miles north of Cincinnati. He is survived by his parents, Ray Combs Sr. and Anita Jean; his wife, Debbie; and six children.

Young said the trouble started early Saturday afternoon when Glendale police responded to Combs' Glendale home in the 1300 block of Sonora Avenue. They had received a call about a man who was causing a major disturbance by destroying the inside of his home.

Soon after the police showed up, Combs' estranged wife, Debbie, arrived.

``The wife showed up and filled in the officers that he was suicidal,'' Young said. ``She said he had just gotten out of St. Joseph's Hospital (in Burbank) for a suicide attempt last week. He had taken Valium.''

Debbie Combs told police that she and her husband had been going through a divorce and that he had been using suicide attempts to ``gain attention,''

Young said. On Thursday and Friday he had been ``banging his head against the walls'' around the home, Young said.

Dr. Louis West, a psychiatry professor at UCLA, said anytime a suicide happens while a person is under watch, a medical facility should review its procedures to make sure it is providing a safe environment.

``You cannot hang yourself with a bedsheet if there's nothing to hang yourself from,'' West said. ``You can't be certain that somebody goofed. It may very well be that they were exercising reasonable and usual precaution, and he just outwitted them. It may be that somebody made a mistake about how much of a danger he was to himself.''

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PHOTO Ray Combs

Was on 72-hour hold
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 4, 1996
Words:523
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