CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses drug abuse.

Kim Ledger spoke to Nova‘s Addicted podcast this week about the death of his son, Heath Ledger, revealing the horrifying detail that he learned of his passing when he saw a TV news report.

Ledger tells host Ash Bradnam that he received a call from a business partner on the day of Heath’s death, January 22, 2008, checking in on how his family was doing, but soon realised that the Ledger family were unaware of the tragedy, and ended the conversation. Ten minutes later other people were calling as well to ask the family what was going on.

Ultimately Ledger found out that his son had passed away when he switched on the news and saw the footage of Heath’s body being carted to an ambulance.

We kinda felt like we were the last to know,” Ledger said. “We literally turned the television on [and] the first thing I saw was them carting the stretcher out to put in an ambulance. That’s the vision that will always stay with me. I couldn’t believe it.

Ledger died at the age of 28, suffering a cardiac arrest brought on by the use of prescription drugs: a combination of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine.

If only we were there, we could’ve woken him up or done something. It was this whole machination of circumstances that caused him to go to sleep with no one interrupting him. We’re in Perth and he’s in New York and you think, God, if only I could have been there. You almost feel guilty as a parent that you weren’t there to help him out.

The Addicted podcast has been having “candid conversation[s] about addiction” with people like rapper 360 and Olympic swimmer Daniel Smith since August last year.

Ledger appeared on the podcast to talk about the harm of abusing prescription drugs, speaking in depth about his work as founding patron of non-profit organisation ScriptWise, who work to reduce and prevent prescription medication misuse and overdose fatalities in Australia.

If you’re struggling with issues relating to addiction, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.

Image: Getty Images / Carlo Allegri